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Clarification of Gun Terms: Semi-automatic, Assault, Machine gun

Many news reports and programs equate "semi-automatic" with "assault" guns. People are led to believe that a semi-automatic can shoot several rounds per second. We hear news commentators calling for a ban of semi-automatic weapons.

Federal Assault Weapons Ban: “Semi-automatic firearms, when fired, automatically extract the spent cartridge casing and load the next cartridge into the chamber, ready to fire again. They do not fire automatically like a machine gun.”

Probably most hunting guns are semi-automatic, requiring a separate trigger pull for each round; that doesn't make them assault weapons. Of course, a victim can reasonably claim “assault” even if only one shot is fired at them (assault: a crime that involves causing a victim to apprehend violence).

“Assault weapon (semi-automatic) refers primarily (but not exclusively) to firearms that possess the cosmetic features of an assault rifle (which are fully-automatic). Actually possessing the operational features, such as 'full-auto', changes the classification from an assault weapon to a Class 3 weapon. Merely the possession of cosmetic features is enough to warrant such classification as an assault weapon.”

If a weapon has certain cosmetic features of an assault rifle (e.g. pistol grip, high capacity magazine etc ) it’s classified as an assault weapon.

Note that fully-automatic operation (hold trigger - several rounds per second) is not an assault weapon but a Class 3 weapon (e.g. machine gun) regulated by National Firearms Act).

What if a semi-automatic gun has not only cosmetic features, but also operates as a Class 3 rifle?

A popular conversion product provides that:
It's approved by BATF:
Apparently the product is “OK” because the operator controls the action.

This weapon provides an advantage; but may be less accurate / continual auto may damage barrel.

Topics: gun control

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  • Dec 25 2012: Why are the "M16-like weapons" a problem? They fire at the same speed and kill with the same potential. I apologize if that reads in a disrespectfully meaner it's not intended to be. I personally don't understand the reasoning to ban a weapon based on looks, not to mention who would be appointed the judge of a weapons cosmetics features
    • Dec 29 2012: Guns (even M16 weapons) do not kill other people!
      However, the federal government recognizes that they're more lethal.

      Why are weapons such as M16 rifles considered to be more dangerous?
      Is it because they look scary?
      Would it be beneficial to ask the federal government who invented "Class 3":
      Why are the M16 and "M16-like weapons" a problem?

      To what extent should citizens be permitted to bear arms?
      Should citizen Joe be allowed to own a grenade launcher, or a Gatling gun?
      Should billionaire citizen Bob be allowed to build a small nuclear bomb?
    • Dec 29 2012: Yeah, all guns are the same and the reason all militaries in the world use weapons that are similar to what is considered an "assault weapon" is merely coincidental, surely it has nothing to do with their relative lethality. Imagine what a strange criterium that would be for a military...

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