Why AR-15s Aren’t Machine Guns, Shouldn’t Be ‘assault Weapons’

PSA AR15 Midlength Jim Grant
“Let’s go to the gun range and shoot my assault weapon,” said no gun owner ever.  IMG Jim Grant

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- “Let’s go to the gun range and shoot my assault weapon,” said no gun owner ever. That’s because without the intention of using a firearm to assault, the idea of using the term “assault weapon” only makes anti-gun activists or the ignorant feel satisfied and morally correct.

A so-called “assault weapon” is NOT a machine gun or automatic firearm. Automatic firearms were severely restricted from civilian ownership under the 1934 National Firearms Act. A so-called “assault weapon” is functionally no different than any other “legal” firearm. These guns fire in the same manner as any other semi-automatic firearm (one shot per trigger pull — no spray firing), they shoot the same ammunition as other guns of the same caliber and are no more powerful. 

What differentiates a so-called “assault weapon” from other guns is cosmetic; for example, the type of stock on the gun, which makes the conventionally operating firearm look more like a military firearm.

Where the Term “Assault Weapon” Came From

Modern sporting rifles have become what many in the media now call “assault weapons.” This deserves a clarification, as the media often interchanges the terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle.” According to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, “Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms.” “Assault weapon” is a political term developed by anti-gun advocates to convince people that some guns are too scary, effective, ergonomic or something, for U.S. citizens to own. The technical term “assault rifle” includes full-auto military firearms such as the M4A1 carbine. The AR-15 is not an assault rifle—it’s not full-auto; it’s semiautomatic (when you pull the trigger it goes bang once).

“AR” doesn’t stand for “assault rifle.” It stands for the first two letters of the original manufacturer’s name: ArmaLite Corporation. AR-15s cannot be configured to be fully automatic. Assault rifles, being full-auto machine guns, are already heavily restricted.

Going Beyond the AR-Platform Rifle

The term “assault weapon” is a relative term used by some to include a growing number of firearm makes and models some want to ban. To see how this century-plus-old technology suddenly became a target for anti-gun groups and politicians, we need to look back to the late 1980s. In 1988, anti-gun activist Josh Sugarmann, who was the communications director for the National Coalition to Ban Handguns, recommended that gun-control groups use public ignorance and fear to ban everything they can stuff into the phrase “assault weapon” when he wrote, “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.”

Semiautomatic pistols, the firearm of choice for concealed carry licensees, have recently garnered attention from antigun lawmakers, as evidenced by their inclusion under the “assault weapon” umbrella in legislation. This practice is becoming more commonplace as the efforts to conceal true intentions of banning all privately owned firearms are diminished. Banning all semiautomatic firearms is now the goal of the antigun lobby who knows that the common criminal will not be affected by such bans and legislation.

What it Should Be

Every possible object that can be used to assault someone (e.g. rock, hands, feet, chainsaw, bat, etc) could fall under the definition of “assault weapon,” which is why it is a divisive and political term. An inanimate object doesn’t assault on its own. AR-platform rifles are used for personal defense and sporting purposes (hunting and target shooting) by the vast majority of responsible gun owners, therefore, should not be called an “assault weapon.” Until an object used in an assault is found as evidence in a crime, it (singularly) should not be affiliated with the criminal actions nor aggression. 

According to FBI crime statistics, murderers used rifles just 2.5% of the time in 2011. Modern sporting rifles make up an even smaller fraction of that percentage. Almost four times more murderers used knives (323 used rifles whereas 1,694 used knives or another sharp object in 2011) to kill someone. Hands and feet are also used more frequently than are rifles.

Actions by the majority should speak louder than words of the minority. This is exactly why AR-style rifles should be referred to by what they really are: modern sporting rifles.

About The National Shooting Sports Foundation

NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations, and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org

National Shooting Sports Foundation

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It is the modern musket. The 2nd isn’t for hunting, sport, or competition. The AR and M4 are militia rifles and should be owned by every red blooded American, with at least 7 mags and ammo, ready to go… just as laws in even left wing NY used to mandate of citizens. That is right- citizens were required to furnish their own rifles and ammo for defense of the country and state against tyrants… like bidet and co.


The 2nd Amendment is most certainly about hunting, sport, and competition. The 2nd didn’t limit the use of arms only to militias. It’s language was used as a justification for personal possession of arms by citing its use by militias so as to satisfy the anti-gunners of the time. The right to use arms to hunt, protect against wild animals, hostile natives, and outlaws was so thoroughly ingrained in citizens that there was no need to mention these uses in the Amendment. Does anyone believe that pioneers who lived in remote areas far from their neighbors and organized militias shouldn’t… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Diksum
Deplorable Bill

The 2A refers to each free American as the militia. The 2A is also a restriction on the government as in “the RIGHT of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Thus the use of firearms for defense, sustenance or sport is therefore protected by law despite what some left leaning, commiefied legislator, judge, lawyer, enforcer or president may say.

Arm up and carry on




Eliminate Joe Biden and China for thier assault virus that they used to steal the election its caused more havoc than any AR ever has . Time for Joe to own the covid 19 assualt virus and be impeached and jailed for corruption and all the deaths caused by his assault virus he conspired to release . Hang his corrupt ass for crimes against the American people by conspiring with China to release the covid 19 assault virus .


Just a couple of factual errors, although I agree with the article as a whole:

An “assault rifle,” absent politicized labeling, is a select-fire firearm (capable of semiautomatic and automatic fire) employing an intermediate cartridge. AR15s are simply a semiautomatic rifle or carbine that looks like an assault rifle but is not.

The “AR” in the AR15 was originally an acronym for “Armalite Rifle.”

Deplorable Bill

To my knowledge it was no less than hitler who coined the phrase assault weapon. This came about when one of his men on the eastern front said they needed more of these, pardon my spelling, strum graviers. This fired the 7.92 kurtz round. The russians caught on to it and made the 762 x 39. The S.G. was a semi and full auto, gas operated, magazine fed platform as opposed to the AR-15 which is a semi automatic, gas operated, magazine fed platform. The M-16 and the M-4 are semi and full automatic, gas operated, magazine fed platforms. Thus,… Read more »


Maybe ARs should be termed “modern muskets” to better comfort Snowflakes.


if i pick up a rock or stick and beat you about the head and shoulders, wouldn’t that be an assault weapon?
anything else?


There is nothing standard about a rock, and a modern army wouldn’t use them.

Deplorable Bill

A good sling shot, say something that can launch a water balloon past 100 yds. would also be considered and yes, someone having to “argue” with a modern army could put it to use….Think of a mortar.

Arm up and carry on.


Esp. if using glass globes from the dollar store, filled with petrol, as the projectiles… Makes an impressive fireball! 🙂


Doesn’t it have to be lit?


There are chemicls one can coat the outside with that flame up upon impact… or just a lit oily rag wrapped around the top, as in a molotov cocktail.


Where do you get a slingshot that launches water balloons? I was looking for one that would launch eggs, for use on punks parking to play rap at 120 db at 2 am.


People constantly scoff in disbelief when I tell them AR stands for Armalite, so it requires a bit more information to make that point. I give the AR-7 as an example, which is a packable rimfire survival rifle more suited to taking rabbits for dinner than assaulting another human.


Good example. I have an Armalite AR-7 from the 1960s.


The next time someone scoffs at the idea that AR stands for Armalite, show them this video of the AR17, an engraved, “Golden Gun”, trap and skeet shotgun, also from the ’60s.


Guess it would help if I included the link, huh?
Doh! 🙂


Even better. Liked the video too.


Pretty tough for anyone to make an engraved, 2 shot only, shotgun into some kind of mythical ‘assault weapon’ huh? 🙂

Ryben Flynn

“Where the Term “Assault Weapon” Came From”.
It comes from the German “Sturmgewehr” which literally translates as “Storm Rifle” or “Assault Rifle”.
See Wikipedia on StG 44.
Google Translate German to English “sturmgewehr” as one word. “Assault Rifle”
Google Translate German to English “sturm” is storm, “gewehr” is rifle.
“AR-15s cannot be configured to be fully automatic.”
YES, they can. Any FFL07 with a SOT 2 can do it and register it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ryben Flynn



Rare Breed is a better option yet IMO.


An ‘Assault Truck’ is an F-150 that is used to run over people, wounding or killing them by the dozens.

And RAM-1500 trucks are scary big.

Oh, and REALLY scary: F-250 and F-350 Trucks.

Why, they should all be banned.


AR is not an acronym, it is an abbreviation.


Just a couple of things that are pet-peeves of mine…..”AR” wasn’t meant to be the “first 2 letters of the company that created it” (I.E ARmalite), it was an acronym for Armalite Rifle…. And idk where the author has been, but yes you most certainly CAN MAKE A FULLY AUTOMATIC AR-15…..depending on the manufacturer of your particular lower receiver and whether it’s a “low-shelf” design or not

Deplorable Bill

M P P, you are correct, AR does stand for Armalite Rifle. I was not so clear on my first post. You are also correct, an AR can be made fully automatic but, people with the know how and the means and the parts are few and far between. There are people who know how to make nuclear weapons, it’s not difficult. There are people who can walk into most any grocery story with less that $25 bucks and walk out with enough stuff to level said store. It’s not difficult. There are people who can make a fully automatic… Read more »