Whenever someone in the gun-owning community mistakenly calls an AR-platform rifle an assault rifle or an automatic rifle, they are assisting anti-gun organizations and lawmakers who are eager to introduce legislation to restrict ownership of these and potentially other semiautomatic firearms. (By the way, the AR stands for ArmaLite, the company that developed the rifle in the 1950s, and not assault rifle or automatic rifle.Â See other MSR facts.)
NSSF is absolutely correct about this. For gun bloggers who apparently don’t know better, “assault rifle” is a well defined term for a rifle capable of selective fire, which chambers an cartridge of intermediate, and has a detachable magazine. If any of these things aren’t true, it’s not an assault rifle by definition. The federal ban on “assault weapons” had nothing to do with “assault rifles,” which were banned in 1986. The term “assault weapon” is a legal fiction concocted by our opponents. It serves no purpose other than to scare people into thinking they are supporting banning something unusual and dangerous.
I’ve always been of the opinion that the term MSR is unnecessary. An AR-15 is just a rifle, and like most everything else, advances in technology have brought us advances in rifle design, just as it has with pistols and shotguns. But most of those advances have been ergonomic and cosmetic. The fundamental principle that drives the AR-15 or semi-automatic versions of the AK-47 isn’t really remarkably different than the Remington Model 8, which was designed in 1900. There were even variants of the Model 8 that were arguably early precursors to today’s so-called “assault weapons.”Â It’s even easy to note the resemblance between the safety on the Model 8 and the Safety/Selector on the AK-47. What makes the modern sporting rifle modern is the fact that the furniture is synthetic, and the rifle has more ergonomic features that make it easy and comfortable to shoot and operate. Other than that, there’s not much truly new that’s happened in firearms design in 100 years.