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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 29 2012: @edward long: Altho it's off-topic slightly, thanks for mentioning this incident that I and many others had not known.

    The 1927 Bath school disaster caused many student deaths.
    The main weapons were dynamite, pyrotol, and firebombs.

    But wouldn't you agree that guns are more popular in our day?
    Seems to me, it's easier to obtain, transport, and operate a gun than explosives.
    A technical mistake with explosives could "end it" prematurely, not producing the desired result.

    Gun technology is the subject of this Conversation, but I'm interested in your statement:
    "The greatest destruction of innocent human lives does not involve guns and is legal."
    Please explain.
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      Jan 1 2013: You are correct sir, we are way off-topic when we debate which method of slaughtering innocent young people is more popular at what point in history. The greatest destruction of innocent human lives takes place every day when women exercise what they euphemistically call "choice". "Choice" is the word these folks choose as the antithesis of "life". Now we are way off-topic and the storm clouds are gathering. Let's stop.

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