NRA Explore
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
California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Monday, September 26, 2016

California: Governor Brown Takes Action on Final Firearm-Related Bills

Today, Governor Brown made his decision on the final firearm-related bills of the 2016 legislative session that made it to his desk.   Governor Brown vetoed two anti-gun bills, AB 450 and SB 1332, and signed ...

Not The Victim Hillary Needs

News  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Not The Victim Hillary Needs

This feature appears in the October ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association. “Why can’t everyone just have their DNA on file? Then it would ...

California: Referendum Update

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

California: Referendum Update

On behalf of the National Rifle Association (NRA), we would like to thank all of the volunteers and individuals who participated in the Veto Gunmageddon ballot referendum qualification effort.  Despite the tremendous efforts of all involved, ...

Hillary: Contempt For The Truth And American Freedom

News  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hillary: Contempt For The Truth And American Freedom

There is no greater danger to American liberty and to the security of our nation than a Hillary Clinton administration. To see the future if Clinton were to take the White House, look no further ...

Trump: The Official NRA Q&A

News  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trump: The Official NRA Q&A

This year’s race for the White House is like no other in our history. Hillary Clinton has made it clear that, if elected, she will come after our firearm freedoms on her very first day ...

War on Terror or a War on Guns?

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

War on Terror or a War on Guns?

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, was in New York City recently on an official visit. Commenting on the bombs that exploded while he was in town, he opined that such attacks are now simply ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

News  

Friday, July 1, 2016

California Governor Signs Draconian Gun Control Package into Law

Fairfax, Va.— California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law on Friday a package of gun bills that were rushed through the state legislature with no regard for proper process. The National Rifle Association Institute for ...

Show Your Support—NEW NRA Yard Signs Available!

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Show Your Support—NEW NRA Yard Signs Available!

Show your support for NRA and the Second Amendment this election cycle by purchasing an NRA yard sign.  With everything that is at stake this year, including the Presidency, the balance of the U.S. Senate ...

Virginia Politician and Clinton Backer Brands Trump Supporters as “Mentally Deficient”

News  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Virginia Politician and Clinton Backer Brands Trump Supporters as “Mentally Deficient”

With the presidential race tighter than ever as it heads into its final stretch, panicked Hillary Clinton supporters are desperate to find a way to discredit, not just Donald Trump, but anyone who would dare ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
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.