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WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ASSAULT WEAPON?

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 19, 2019

BRYCE ON GUNS

– A little education is in order.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

We are hearing a lot from politicians about banning Assault Weapons. There is a misguided assumption that all military-like rifles are automatic weapons, thereby posing a danger to society and should be banned. This is simply not true and is indicative of how naive the public and politicians can be. As such, the following dissertation will seem elementary to people familiar with guns, but to others, it is sorely needed.

First, let us understand the various types of guns available, but not air rifles and pellet guns which can also be dangerous if mishandled.

Shotguns – make use of a cased-load consisting of pellets or “shot” thereby denoting the name. This is typically discharged using a rifle-like weapon which can be fired one round at a time and is used to hunt small wild game and target shooting (“Trap” and “Skeet”). Such weapons may hold only one shot, two, or multiple shots (usually up to seven) which is loaded either by pump action or a semi-automatic load (see below).

Single shots – are older rifles used to discharge a singe shot at a time, usually with bolt-action, or muskets featuring black powder and ball.

Revolvers – featuring a chambered cylinder typically holding five to six rounds. The bullets are fired as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger, one at a time.

Semi-automatics – have a magazine or clip containing rounds, usually six or more depending on the magazine’s capacity, such as 20, 30, or more. A “semi-auto” simply loads one round at a time into the chamber, and, like the revolver, the bullets can be fired as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger, one at a time. The biggest difference between the semi-auto and the revolver is the former can hold more rounds and is easier to reload ammunition. Semi-autos can be found in shotguns, handguns, and rifles.

Automatic weapons – allows the discharge of many rounds by pulling the trigger once and stopping by releasing the trigger. Automatic weapons are commonly referred to as machine guns. They can automatically load a bullet into the chamber, discharge it, expel the spent casing, and reload the next round, again and again, all in the blink of an eye. Consequently, there is a big difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and this plays an important part in the confusion over Assault Weapons.

Perhaps the two most criticized weapons are the AR-15 and the AK-47. People fallaciously believe the “A” in the model number means “Assault.” No, not even close. The AR-15 means “ArmaLite” – model 15, and was developed by Colt in the early 1960’s. The AK-47 means “Avtomat Kalashnikova” – model 47, and was developed in Russia. The two are certainly not synonymous and have significant differences. However, the design of the AK-47 began in 1945 and came to prominent military use in the 1960’s. It was considered durable and reliable; so much so, it inspired many other rifle designs.

The AR-15 is a lightweight semi-auto with a 20-round magazine. In this regard, it is essentially no different than a semi-auto handgun, which can hold a comparable load, yet can be concealed more easily than a rifle. However, the AR-15 can be configured with different barrels and caliber of ammunition.

The AK-47, on the other hand, has a curved 30-round magazine, but there are also 40-round and 75-round magazines available. In 1974, the Soviets replaced the AK-47 with an improved design in the form of the AK-74. Although the AK-47 and its successor were initially designed as a semi-auto, it can be configured as an effective automatic weapon, which is how the American public perceives an Assault Weapon.

There is one problem with the AK-47; purchasing one, as automatic weapons are incredibly difficult to obtain in this country. However, it is possible to legally obtain an AK-47, but to do so, the purchaser has to go through a rigorous background check. Even if you pass the test, the AK-47 is incredibly expensive, making it cost prohibitive to own.

The AK-47 was specifically designed for military use, the AR-15 was not. So, comparing the AR-15 to the AK-47 is like comparing apples with oranges, they are distinctly different in design and use. Anyone trying to compare them in the same breath simply doesn’t know what they are talking about. Whereas, the AR-15 is more akin to semi-auto handguns, the AK-47 is more comparable to a Thompson machine gun.

Following the last Federal Assault Weapons Ban held from 1994-2004, the Department of Health and Human Services conducted a follow-up study and concluded, “the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.” In other words, the ban did nothing to reduce violent behavior, and maybe that is just the point, it is more about behavior, or mental instability.

What I have tried to describe herein is basic information. Hunters and gun hobbyists already understand this, but the American public is still naive, which is why I am a big proponent of gun education in public schools. Someone who is educated about guns makes a lousy target as he/she will know what to do in the event of an emergency and will have more of a chance to survive an attack. Let us not forget the one organization that champions such education; that’s right, the NRA. Click HERE for safety and education.

So, what is an Assault Weapon? It ultimately depends on how it is used. From this perspective, all guns can be used for wreaking havoc on the public in a deadly melee. Let us suppose the AR-15 and AK-47 were outlawed, as well as handguns. Even then, there is enough capability in a semi-automatic shotgun to inflict considerable damage. So, do we outlaw all guns? This, of course, will be a test of the 2nd Amendment. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with these weapons when they are properly used, but it is the mental stability of the person pulling the trigger which is in question, and a subject nobody wants to address.

But getting back to our original proposition; when we discuss Assault Weapons in the future, let us not mix apples with oranges.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Also do not forget my new books, “How to Run a Nonprofit” and “Tim’s Senior Moments”, both available in Printed and eBook form.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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5 Responses to “WHAT EXACTLY IS AN ASSAULT WEAPON?”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A B.B. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “Your article failed to mention bump stocks that can be used to convert a semi to an automatic. You also did not mention the original purpose in the Second Amendment which was to provide not only personal protection and hunting but also provide for the combined force of the community through militias to protect that community. Gun ownership by everyone is only logical to protect our communities. What is missing is mental institutions that States stopped funding.”

    Like

  2. Tim Bryce said

    An S.K. of Tampa, Florida wrote…

    “Always spot on. Love the comment about States refusing to fund mental institutions. It’s all to be politically correct. Don’t know why I haven’t shared your columns to others I know who are of like minds. Starting with this one!”

    Like

  3. Paul Ergler said

    Very informative piece that many uninformed individuals need to read but unfortunately will not. The only slight inaccuracy that I saw, and it has no effect on the purpose of your piece, is that Eugene Stoner of the Armalite Corp. developed the AR-15 rifle. Armalite then sold the rights to Colt who subsequently made some minor refinements in conjunction with military testing. The first production rifles were made in 1959.

    Like

  4. Lawrence P. Marlin said

    An educated view of the subject. So many of those demanding “assault” rifles be banned obviously have no idea to what they are referring. Can anyone really envision an Elizabeth Warren knowing much of anything about guns?

    Like

  5. Del Wilson said

    Well said Tim. Not only is an AR-15 NOT an assault weapon, it’s not even a particularly powerful one. It’s the 5.56 NATO (223 Remington), a high velocity 22 caliber varmint cartridge. Not suitable (or legal in most states) for hunting large game! Military versions usually have a 3 shot automatic and/or fully automatic as well as semiautomatic (reloads and ready to fire again after being fired). The military uses them because the light high velocity bullet will usually expand rapidly and expend all it’s energy in an enemy combatant without going all the way through like a larger cartridge. This minimizes collateral damage (innocent person behind target gets shot too). The 3 shot option offsets the rather modest killing power to help assure the intended target is taken out. The commercial knockoffs are more of a fad than being purposed for any use a more conventional gun of the same or similar caliber would be used for; hunting, target shooting, firearm training etc. Calling them assault weapons is a deliberate ploy to inflame the anti-gun crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

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