Semi-automatic weapons aren’t ‘assault rifles’

The Daily Herald published a letter on Nov. 24 from someone who made the argument that, since only single-fire weapons existed at the time the Second Amendment was ratified, then only such weapons should be allowed now. This thinking is very flawed.

At the time the Bill of Rights were being drafted, ordinary citizens could own rifles and muskets that were the state of the art. In fact, the weaponry possessed by the Americans during the Revolutionary War was superior in accuracy to the weapons issued to the British Army. The situation now is different, as ordinary Americans are not generally permitted to buy true assault weapons, rifles that are identical in function to the M-16 and M-4 rifles that are issued to the military and police agencies. An actual assault weapon has the capability of being fired in fully automatic mode — one trigger pull with multiple rounds being fired.

From the letter: “We have been looking at the problem of assault weapons from the wrong angle.” The weapons the writer is referring to are not “assault weapons,” as they are all semi-automatic and do not have selector switches to permit full automatic fire. No country on earth would issue to their military forces the kinds of weapons that are commonly available for sale here in the U.S.

Mark Parker


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