Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Semi-Automatic Firearms and the “Assault Weapon” Issue

Friday, June 3, 2011

Semi-automatic firearms were introduced more than a century ago. They account for about 15 percent of the 250+ million privately-owned firearms in the United States. They are used for the same purposes that other firearms are, including self-defense, hunting, and recreational and competitive target shooting.

Semi-automatics fire only one shot when the trigger is pulled—like revolvers, bolt-actions, lever-actions, pump-actions, double-barrels and all other types of firearms except fully-automatics (machine guns). Contrary to gun control supporters’ claims, semi-automatics can’t "spray fire," they aren’t designed to be fired "from the hip," they aren’t "easy to convert" into machine guns, they aren’t "high-powered" compared to other firearms, and those that gun control supporters call "assault weapons" aren’t used by the military or by terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they’re not designed with silencers.

Nevertheless, in 1988, handgun ban activist Josh Sugarmann recommended that gun control groups campaign against "assault weapons" to bolster their long-standing efforts to ban handguns, and that they try to trick the public into believing that "assault weapons" were fully-automatic machine guns used by the military. Sugarmann wrote:

[A]ssault weapons . . . will . . . strengthen the handgun restriction lobby . . . . [H]andgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. . . . Assault weapons . . . are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. . . . Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns.

Sugarmann also recommended that the BATF adopt guidelines to prohibit the importation of "assault weapons." The following year, the BATF banned the importation of 43 models of "assault-type" semi-automatic rifles that it had previously approved for importation. Also in 1989, California banned "assault weapons." In 1990, New Jersey banned "assault firearms." Both states allowed owners to register and keep banned guns already owned, but only about 10 percent of owners complied. Other states subsequently banned "assault weapons" (Connecticut, 1993; Massachusetts, 1998; New York, 2000; or "assault pistols" (Hawaii, 1992; Maryland, 1994). The Brady Campaign calls California’s ban the "model for the nation," though California’s murder rate increased every year for five years after its 1989 ban, 26 percent overall, while in the rest of the country murder increased 11 percent.

President Bill Clinton campaigned for a federal "assault weapon" ban, saying people "can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans." A ban on new manufacture of "assault weapons" and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds was imposed from 1994 to 2004. The law allowed the same firearms to be made without attachments such as a flash suppressor or folding stock, and allowed the importation of over 50 million magazines that held more than 10 rounds. In the November elections of 1994, a number of Democrats who supported the ban were voted out of office and Republicans took control of Congress until January 2007.

A study of the ban, mandated by Congress, concluded, "the banned guns were never used in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders" before the ban, and the ban’s 10-round limit on new magazines wasn’t a factor in multiple-victim or multiple-wound crimes. A follow-up study found "gunshot injury incidents involving pistols [many of which use magazines that hold more than 10 rounds] were less likely to produce a death than those involving revolvers [which typically hold five or six rounds]" and "the average number of wounds for pistol victims was actually lower than that for revolver victims." Crime reports and felon surveys showed that "assault weapons" were used in only 1-2 percent of violent crimes before the ban; crime victim surveys indicated the figure was 0.25 percent. In the 10 years before the ban, murders committed without guns outnumbered those with "assault weapons" by about 37-to-1. There are more "assault weapons" and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds than ever before, and the nation’s murder rate is at a 47-year low, having decreased 52 percent since 1991.

Bills introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) in 2003, 2005 and 2007 would have banned every gun banned in 1994, plus guns made to comply with the ban; guns exempted by the ban; fixed-magazine, semi-automatic, center-fire rifles holding more than 10 rounds; semi-automatic shotguns; detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles; and any semi-automatic shotgun or rifle an Attorney General one day claimed isn’t "sporting." The bills would have also reinstated and expanded the ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Bills have been introduced in some states to ban pump-action firearms as "assault weapons." That idea, conceived by Donna Dees-Thomases, the founder of the Million Mom March and a friend of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is urged by the Legal Community Against Violence, which has drafted a "model" assault weapon bill to be used in state legislatures.

TRENDING NOW
Kentucky: Committee to Consider Firearm Seizures Without Due Process

Friday, November 15, 2019

Kentucky: Committee to Consider Firearm Seizures Without Due Process

On Friday, November 22nd, the Kentucky state Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary will consider so called “red-flag laws.” Though no legislation has been introduced, such laws usually allow for Second Amendment rights to be suspended ...

NRA's Statement on Second Amendment Sanctuaries

News  

Friday, December 6, 2019

NRA's Statement on Second Amendment Sanctuaries

Read the NRA's statement on Second Amendment sanctuaries. “It is the tyrannical nature of politicians that triggers sanctuary, not the other way around...”

Virginia Police Chief Advocates Ban on All Guns at U.S. House “Assault Weapons” Hearing

News  

Friday, September 27, 2019

Virginia Police Chief Advocates Ban on All Guns at U.S. House “Assault Weapons” Hearing

On Sept. 25, the Democrat-led U.S. House Judiciary Committee held a 3 ½ hour “hearing” entitled “Protecting America From Assault Weapons.” That framing of the issue underscored the erroneous notion that Americans need protection from ...

Bloomberg Bought Virginia Legislators Introduce Confiscatory Gun Ban

News  

Monday, November 25, 2019

Bloomberg Bought Virginia Legislators Introduce Confiscatory Gun Ban

Michael Bloomberg’s bought and paid for Virginia legislators have wasted no time introducing legislation that would make the Old Dominion’s gun laws worse than those of the billionaire’s home state of New York.

Background Checks for Family Members?! Bloomberg-Bought Virginia Legislature Seeks to Ban Private Firearms Transfers

Friday, December 6, 2019

Background Checks for Family Members?! Bloomberg-Bought Virginia Legislature Seeks to Ban Private Firearms Transfers

Michael Bloomberg’s bought-and-paid-for new Virginia majorities have wasted no time introducing an extremist bill that would make the Commonwealth one of the most hostile states for law-abiding gun owners.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Florida Alert! "Assault Weapons" Ban Amendment Bans ALL SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES AND SHOTGUNS

The so-called "assault weapons" ban that is proposed for a constitutional amendment to be on the 2020 Election Ballot bans the possession of: “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun CAPABLE of holding more than ten (10) rounds ...

NRA Files Joint Legal Challenge Against Firearm Storage Initiative Petition

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

NRA Files Joint Legal Challenge Against Firearm Storage Initiative Petition

On Friday, the National Rifle Association announced the filing of a joint legal challenge with the Oregon Hunters Association to contest Oregon Initiative Petition 40, which seeks to impose sweeping restrictions on the storage of ...

Joe Biden Wants to Ban 9mm Pistols

News  

Monday, November 25, 2019

Joe Biden Wants to Ban 9mm Pistols

A week after he told voters that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect “a magazine with a hundred clips in it,” 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden offered supporters more of his singular brand of anti-gun ...

Massachusetts: Hearing on Bill to Mandate Doctors Push State’s Anti-Gun Agenda

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Massachusetts: Hearing on Bill to Mandate Doctors Push State’s Anti-Gun Agenda

On December 10th, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health will hear House Bill 2005 to impose a mandatory requirement for doctors to ask patients about firearms in their homes and for the type of ...

NRA-Supported Case Heard by Supreme Court

News  

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

NRA-Supported Case Heard by Supreme Court

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) says this week’s Supreme Court hearing on a New York City gun control law could ultimately strengthen the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.