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
Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

News  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Levi’s Teams with Billionaire Michael Bloomberg to Attack Gun Rights

Levi Strauss & Co. established its brand in the mid-19th century by selling durable clothing to working-class Americans. As Levi’s signature jeans gained popularity amongst a wider set in the middle of the last century, ...

Surprise: Physician Group Rehashes Same Tired Gun Control Policies

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Surprise: Physician Group Rehashes Same Tired Gun Control Policies

Everyone has hobbies. Some doctors’ collective hobby is opining on firearms policy. Half of the articles in the “Latest from Annals” email from the Annals of Internal Medicine journal are related to firearms. The most prominent of these ...

Midterm Elections Offer Motivation to Continue the Fight For Our Rights

News  

Friday, November 9, 2018

Midterm Elections Offer Motivation to Continue the Fight For Our Rights

The votes have all been cast in the 2018 midterm elections. And while the counting and recounting is still under way in some places, the overall picture that has emerged soundly refutes the breathless media narrative of ...

Missing the Marx: Gun Control’s Future is … Communism?

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Missing the Marx: Gun Control’s Future is … Communism?

After every high profile crime committed with a firearm of any sort, there are always calls for gun control. But one particular proposal this week managed to distinguish itself amid the usual din, if only ...

Former ATF Agent Pulls Mask Off Giffords’s Plans for Federal AR-15 Registration

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Former ATF Agent Pulls Mask Off Giffords’s Plans for Federal AR-15 Registration

In an odd turn, just before Halloween one prominent gun control group briefly got out of costume. When former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and husband Mark Kelly launched Americans for Responsible Solutions (now named Giffords) in ...

Jamie Lee Curtis “Proves” She is Not Anti-gun by Stating her Support for Banning Guns?!?!

News  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Jamie Lee Curtis “Proves” She is Not Anti-gun by Stating her Support for Banning Guns?!?!

Actors and actresses should generally stick to what they know best; repeating the lines others have written for them. Jamie Lee Curtis recently decided to try to explain, in her own words, how much she ...

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.

NRA Challenges Constitutional Violations in Initiative 1639

News  

Thursday, November 15, 2018

NRA Challenges Constitutional Violations in Initiative 1639

The NRA was joined by the Second Amendment Foundation in filing a lawsuit challenging gun control measures recently passed in Washington ballot initiative I-1639.

Who’s BS’ing Now? Gonzalez Argues for Gun Confiscation but Insists She’s “Pro Second Amendment”

News  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Who’s BS’ing Now? Gonzalez Argues for Gun Confiscation but Insists She’s “Pro Second Amendment”

Gun control advocates are constantly looking for the right messenger to push an agenda that boils down to law-abiding Americans giving up their freedoms, their security, and their property without expectation of affecting the behavior ...

Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams Reiterates Support for Semi-automatic Ban

News  

Friday, November 2, 2018

Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams Reiterates Support for Semi-automatic Ban

During a recent segment on ABC’s The View, Stacey Abrams reiterated her support for a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms. During an interview with the candidate, host Meghan McCain, daughter of longtime U.S. Senator John McCain, ...

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.