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
Reuniting The United States With Reciprocity

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Reuniting The United States With Reciprocity

Most concealed-carry permit holders understand the potential pitfalls of traveling with a firearm, given the outrageous patchwork of state laws involved in even a short interstate trip. And while we haven’t posted much about reciprocity ...

Gun Control Lobby Seeks to Thwart SHARE Act with Hysteria, Fear Mongering

News  

Hunting  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Gun Control Lobby Seeks to Thwart SHARE Act with Hysteria, Fear Mongering

The panic is now starting to set in amongst the gun control lobby, which is desperately searching for ways to smear a bill that has been around for years in various forms without attracting much ...

Washington Post Employs Deceptive Tactic on “Children” and Guns

News  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Washington Post Employs Deceptive Tactic on “Children” and Guns

The Washington Post has surpassed the Brady Campaign and Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety to take a place alongside the New York Times as the premier anti-gun propagandists in the country.

Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll Throws Wrench in Anti-gun Agenda

News  

Friday, September 8, 2017

Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll Throws Wrench in Anti-gun Agenda

Demonstrating the importance of the gun issue to the American electorate, 35 percent of respondents reported that “gun rights or gun control” had an impact on their voting behavior. The issue was the highest-rated answer, ...

Anti-Gun Politicians: Blocking Out The Facts About Suppressors

Hunting  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Anti-Gun Politicians: Blocking Out The Facts About Suppressors

As soon as the Hearing Protection Act was put forward on Jan. 9, 2017, leftists came out of the woodwork to criticize and misconstrue the goals of those who supported removing suppressors from the auspices ...

National Reciprocity Bill Nears Goal Line in the House but Needs Your Support to Reach the End Zone

News  

Friday, September 15, 2017

National Reciprocity Bill Nears Goal Line in the House but Needs Your Support to Reach the End Zone

Gun owners received good news this week with the passage of the SHARE Act by the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources (see related story). Meanwhile, progress continued to be made on another NRA legislative ...

Bloomberg Spending Millions To Elect Anti-Gun Virginia Governor

News  

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bloomberg Spending Millions To Elect Anti-Gun Virginia Governor

Billionaire anti-gunner Michael Bloomberg is at it again, pledging to spend $1 million through his gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety in an attempt to impact Virginia’s upcoming elections for governor and attorney general.

House Committee Passes SHARE Act by Wide Margin

Hunting  

News  

Friday, September 15, 2017

House Committee Passes SHARE Act by Wide Margin

As we have reported, this year’s version of the SHARE Act is the most expansive and far-reaching yet. Besides previously-introduced provisions aimed at enhancing opportunities for hunting, fishing, and shooting and broadening access to federal lands ...

Wisconsin: Constitutional Carry Passes Committee Vote

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Wisconsin: Constitutional Carry Passes Committee Vote

Today, Senate Bill 169 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a vote of 3-2.  SB 169 would allow for the concealed carry of a firearm without a concealed carry license anywhere in the state where ...

Rhode Island:  House Gives Final Approval to Gun Control Bill

Friday, September 22, 2017

Rhode Island: House Gives Final Approval to Gun Control Bill

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello summoned lawmakers back to Providence in a rare September session, and the House passed an anti-gun bill Tuesday afternoon.  The session had abruptly ended in June with the budget and a ...

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.