What IS an Assault Weapon?

With all this talk about assault weapons, let’s look at what they are talking about. Just what makes something an ‘assault weapon’ and how does this term compare to the concept of what lawmakers are looking to regulate.

The first true assault rifle was born in 1943 Germany. Invented by firearms engineer Hugo Schmeisser, it was a select-fire (either full auto or semi-auto at the flick of a switch) rifle that fired an intermediate caliber round (larger than a pistol but shorter than a rifle round), and had a large detachable magazine that could be changed quickly. This gun was dubbed the StG44 or ‘storm rifle model 44’ and was a crucial addition to the German arsenal in the end of World War Two.

This rifle was very popular and the Soviets soon had a modified version they adopted a few years later as the AK-47. The current assault rifle of the US military is the M4A1 carbine, which has a select-fire trigger, 14.5-inch barrel, and can fire at 750-rounds per minute until its ammunition is exhausted. For a private citizen to own one of these types of weapons, it has to be made before 1986 as the Hughes Amendment banned production of select-fire weapons for private sales that year. Even if a ‘pre-86’ gun is available, they run upwards of $10K and take 3-6 months to transfer from a Class III dealer after an extensive ATF approval process that includes a $200 tax stamp.

ak74u
AKS-74U ‘Krinkov’ of the Russian Army. It is 19-inches long with a 8.3-inch barrel and fires 30 rounds of 5.45x39mm at about 700 rounds per minute. Its a true assault rifle…..now lets talk about the mythical creature that is an ‘assault weapon’…..

Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk.com

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