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Obama Wants to Ban 'Assault Weapons' but Does Not Know What They Are

The category has no meaning except through legislation.

White HouseWhite HouseIn his speech last night, President Obama said the government should "make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino." In its front-page editorial on Saturday, The New York Times used stronger language, saying, "It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection." On the same day, New York Times columnist Gail Collins agreed that "assault weapons," which she said "seem to be the armament of choice for mass shootings," should be banned. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, concurs.

What exactly are these evil guns that are good for nothing but indiscriminate slaughter? Judging from their own words, Obama, the New York Times editorial board, Collins, and Clinton—like most people who support bans on so-called assault weapons—do not know what "assault weapons" are.

The president and the Times call the guns they want to ban "powerful," which suggests they fire especially large rounds. But caliber has nothing to do with the legal definition of "assault weapon," and AR-15-style rifles like those used in San Bernardino fire "low-caliber rounds that are less deadly than those used in many handguns," as the Times itself noted in 2013.

Obama—who called the Bushmaster XM15-E2S used in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, "fully automatic"—also seems to think "assault weapons" are machine guns. So does Clinton, who in 2008 advocated "sensible regulations" to keep "machine guns" away from "folks who shouldn't have them." Machine guns are already strictly regulated by the federal government, which since 1986 has banned sales to civilians.

The editorial board of the Times seems dimly aware that "assault weapons" are not machine guns, since it says they are "modified" (albeit "barely" or "slightly" modified) versions of guns used by soldiers. Likewise Collins, who correctly calls the guns she wants to eliminate "semiautomatic," meaning they fire once per trigger pull—unlike machine guns, which fire continuously, or assault rifles, which can fire either way. But Collins, who claims "semiautomatic weapons are totally inappropriate for either hunting or home defense," clearly does not understand how broad that category is, encompassing any gun that fires, ejects the empty casing, and chambers another cartridge when you press the trigger. The semiautomatic weapons that Collins deems "totally inappropriate for either hunting or home defense" include many different models of hunting rifles and virtually all modern handguns except for revolvers.

Collins says "the San Bernardino murderers were wielding assault rifles, with which they were able to fire an estimated 65-75 bullets in rapid succession." Actually, the long guns used in the San Bernardino attack—a DPMS A-15 and a Smith & Wesson M&P15—were not assault rifles, which are capable of automatic fire. They were not even "assault weapons," according to California's definition. And Collins is wrong to think they fire especially rapidly. They fire exactly as fast as any other semiautomatic, which is about as fast as a revolver: as fast as you can pull the trigger.

Collins is also wrong when she says "assault weapons" are "the armament of choice for mass shootings." According to the Mother Jones tally of such crimes, handguns are by far the most commonly used weapon, accounting for 94 of 143 firearms used by mass shooters, or 66 percent. Only 20 of the guns, or 14 percent, would qualify as "assault weapons" under a 2013 bill proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). As Brian Doherty noted on Friday, "assault weapons" account for an even smaller share of all homicides. Rifles in general, which include many guns that are not considered "assault weapons," were used in about 2 percent of homicides last year.

Collins notes that "assault weapons...used to be illegal under a law that expired in 2004" and wonders, "If the law had stayed on the books, how many victims would have survived in San Bernardino, or at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn.?" We can say with some confidence that the federal "assault weapon" ban would have had no impact on either of those mass shootings, since it did not cover the guns used to commit them. Neither did the "assault weapon" bans of the states in which the massacres occurred, which were broader than the federal law.

Contrary to what Collins et al. seem to think, the "assault weapon" category has no reality independent of legislation. "Assault weapons" are whatever legislators say they are. Hence the rifle used in the Newtown massacre was not an assault weapon when the crime was committed but became one after Connecticut legislators approved a new, broader definition of the term. Similarly, the rifles used by the perpetrators of the San Bernardino attack are not assault weapons unless and until the California legislature decides to call them that.

The Times, which says "certain kinds of weapons...must be outlawed for civilian ownership"—by which it means not only that future sales should be banned but that current owners should be forced to "give them up"—is confident "it is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way." But it does not propose a definition, presumably because such an exercise would make it obvious that the "assault weapon" label hinges on features, such as folding stocks, pistol grips, barrel shrouds, and flash suppressors, that make little or no difference in the hands of mass shooters or ordinary criminals, who in any case overwhelmingly prefer other types of guns.

In a 2014 essay titled "The Assault Weapon Myth," ProPublica reporter Lois Becket noted that these demonized guns are a "politically defined category" based on scary looks rather than criminal significance. "The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference," she wrote. "It turns out that big, scary military rifles don't kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do." Apparently the editors of the Times missed that essay, even though they published it. I guess they also missed the paper's own coverage of this issue, which has intermittently explained how arbitrary the definition of "assault weapon" is and noted that AR-15-style rifles like those used by the San Bernardino murderers are among the most popular guns in the United States.

At this point—27 years after the Violence Policy Center's Josh Sugarmann recommended targeting "assault weapons" based on their "menacing looks," taking advantage of "the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons"—there is no excuse for continuing to parrot myths about the special murder-facilitating features of these firearms. Either Obama, Clinton, Collins, and her colleagues at the Times do not know what they are talking about or they are deliberately misleading the public. 

[This post has been revised to clarify that sales of new machine guns to civilians have been banned since 1986; possession of pre-existing weapons is still allowed, although strictly regulated.]

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  • UnCivilServant||

    Actually, he wants to ban all civil arms, but knows he can't get there by saying so outright.

  • What's that smell?||

    He can have my gun when he prys my cold dead dick out of his mouth!

  • Intraveneous Woodchipper||

    That escalated quickly lol

  • EndTheGOP||

    The best thing that could ever happen to our country is for both Obama and Loretta Lynch to keel over from massive heart attacks.

    Let us pray.

  • Suicidy||

    I advocate for stomach cancer in the alternative. Far more painful, and those monsters deserve to suffer.

  • Akira||

    How about stomach cancer, plus trigeminal neuralgia and cluster headaches just for good measure?

  • dchang0||

    I can see it now--Reason's comment section full of

    Woodchippy Heart-Attackius
    Cardiac Woodchipper Arrest

    and other similar usernames...

    (Not saying we should self-censor at all, just that we better start coming up with better usernames than the crappy ones I just came up with. It takes time for creative genius to shine...)

  • sweettea71||

    He can't outright talk about 99% of the things he wants to do.

  • CJR||

    He knows what he thinks he means. Scary black rifles with military looks and big magazines. That's enough to get his point across.

    There are a couple of problems with the implementation, though.

  • MSimon||

    Magazines? Aren't they going out of business?

  • Win Bear||

    He knows what he thinks he means. Scary black rifles with military looks and big magazines

    Big black guns scare our president.

  • Trigger Hippie||

    'Excuse me while I whip this out.'

  • Intraveneous Woodchipper||

    Great movie

  • Some Engineer||

    That's racist. I expect better from him.

  • Suicidy||

    Bigger and blacker?

  • Dixon Sider Woodchipper||

    No, that part is the white half.

  • Rich||

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Rich||

    Nice!

  • Long Woodchippers||

    Where would this country be without insurrection?

  • UCrawford||

    I've got liberal friends who are absolutely horrified when I explain to them how gun rights keep government in check (and actually prevent insurrection) by being a constant reminder to politicians that there is a line when it comes to legislation and rights. My friends don't particularly like when I point out that their position is the same one that slaveowners held, for the same reasons, when it came to limiting the ability of people to resist unjust laws. Because obviously, the fact that the roots of gun control in America were based in keeping slaves subjugated has nothing to do with their supposedly high-minded principles today.

    I have to admit that I wonder how someone like Nat Turner would have come down on this issue today.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Turner

  • Craig@USA||

    That's a good point. Some states, NC for example, still have some "common sense" gun control laws on the books that were established as Jim Crow laws. Biggest supporters? Sheriffs, democrats, black "community leaders". I don't see how they can get away with supporting laws like these. Example: if you want to buy a handgun and you don't have a CHP, you need permission from the sheriff. How would that work decades ago? You want a pistol, what color are you?

  • Adans smith||

    I guess 9 mm and a 45 acp would be a weapon of war too.Many soidiers carry one as a back up

  • Suicidy||

    And pointed sticks. Don't forget about those. Better ban them too.

  • Intraveneous Woodchipper||

    "And churches! Bread! Very small rocks!"

  • WuzYoungOnceToo||

    "When you're walking home tonight and some great homicidal maniac comes after you with a bunch of loganberries, don't come crying to me!"

  • jmg09||

    Shut up! And now, the passion fruit!

  • JayWye||

    No military in the world uses SEMI-auto rifles.
    the Second Amendment of the Constitution is NOT ABOUT hunting or sporting.
    semi-auto,magazine-fed rifles such as the AR-15 and AK-47 are today's modern MILITIA weapons,and thus should be the most protected of firearms under the Second Amendment.

    Militiamen were expected to appear for muster bearing arms and ammo similar to and compatible with what the Regular military had in use AT THAT TIME.
    Since we "compromised" and restricted ownership of full-auto,true assault rifles,that leaves the semi-auto versions for civilian militia use.

    In US v Miller,SCOTUS asked if a short-barreled shotgun was a weapon that a militia would commonly use,implying that arms protected by the 2nd Amendment were arms a militia would use. AR-15's,M-16's and AK-47s would be ordinary militia arms,and "hi-capacity magazines" also would be protected.

  • retiredfire||

    At the time of the writing of the Constitution, guns/arms were indispensable for hunting and protection. No one would have conceived of disallowing their ownership, or use and would not have had those subjects in mind when writing the 2A.
    The second amendment was, completely dedicated to the concept of arms being used, as they had just been, for the citizens to rise up against a tyrannical government and was fully intended to include whatever weaponry a military force, under control of the government, (the Constitution, actually, forbids a "standing" army) might have.

  • Rich||

    The semiautomatic weapons that Collins deems "totally inappropriate for either hunting or home defense" include many different models of hunting rifles and virtually all modern handguns except for revolvers.

    BWAHAHAHAHAAA!!

  • JayWye||

    During the LA riots of 1992,the police REFUSED to enter the riot zone to protect citizens,and Korean shopkeepers used "assault weapons" (Ruger Mini-14 rifles) to hold off the rioting mob that came to burn them and their families alive in their shops/homes. that's just ONE good reason,not that we need ANY reason to own them.
    it also is justification for 30 round magazines,you need firepower to hold off a riot mob.
    Not that we need any justification.

    Those Korean-Americans defended their HOMES with their "assault weapons".
    In the Ferguson riots,shop owners defended their stores with "assault weapons",while police allowed the rioters to burn other businesses.

  • Tejicano||

    OK, so show me the definition of a weapon which cannot be used to assault (calling something an "assault weapon" implies that there are non-assault weapons) and we can have that conversation.

  • sarcasmic||

    Nerf.

  • Tejicano||

    OK, so I challenge you to a duel - you use your weapon and I'll use a S&W M-29

  • sarcasmic||

    How fast can you shoot one of those hand-cannons?

  • Tejicano||

    Faster than you can run.

  • sarcasmic||

    Why run? You're going to flinch, making your first shot go wild. While you're recovering I'll take careful aim and make sure you don't get a second shot off.

  • Horatio||

    Just get your dicks out already

  • Loki||

    I'll just leave this here.

  • sarcasmic||

    wow

  • Cloudbuster||

    It's the "A Christmas Story" theory of assault:

    “The Nerf dart strikes her. Nobody was injured in this case but if it hits an eye or something an injury could result from this,” said St. Louis County Police Officer Brian Schellman.

    "You'll put your eye out!"

  • LV||

    I have a permit. Issued by the Sheriff of Hasbro.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Either Obama, Clinton, Collins, and her colleagues at the Times do not know what they are talking about or they are deliberately misleading the public.

    Porque no los dos?

  • UnCivilServant||

    ... I have no idea what you're trying to say.

  • Rich||

    "Can't it be *both*?"

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It's no longer the dankest of memes, but...

  • LV||

    Yeah, take out "either" and replace "or" with "and" and you are spot on.

    Stephanie Gutmann's "The Other War".

    Make no mistake, the vast majority of the "media" are both stupid and deliberately trying to mislead the public.

  • Rich||

    The Times ... is confident "it is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way."

    Mark my words: The legal definition will be something like "guns that have been used in a terrorist act or mass shooting", followed in a year by "... or that could conceivably be used in a shooting or threat of violence."

  • Drake||

    Or just "guns".

  • Tejicano||

    ...or any other guns we choose to add to the list because we don't like them.

  • Rich||

    "Here is the list of guns an authorized citizen is permitted to own rent from the armory."

  • Chipper SQWRLZ of the Wood||

    Why the fuck would you even post this blasphemy??
    Jeezis Christ!
    This level of visionary sarcasm gets tamped down, balled up, repressed and turned into cancer.
    Thanks to your unrestrained wit, now FFLs obtain a license, per firearm, from the federal govt. for those which they intend to rent monthly to "authorized" civilians. CA, DC or NY type civilian authorization.
    I just ran this through several SCOTUS scenarios over the next 100 years in my head, and 1.Individuals can still keep and bear the arms not deemed by The State "too dangerous for civilians to keep or bear". 2. "Authorized" individuals are "well regulated" (full federal colonoscopy, as in class 3/title 2, but every time), as the progressive interpretation of 2A implies. 3. Your usage of US Milititia™ armaments makes you conscribable to Reserve service if required.

    -3 for aiding and abetting with talky words.

  • ||

    "Any gun whose ammunition can be used to pierce police protective armor, one that has a quick-release magazine mechanism or can be modified to hold more than 10 bullets or a weapon with a folding military-style stock."

    If that passed, to be followed in a year by "any gun that can be quickly reloaded including semi-automatic handguns that hold more than seven bullets."

    And if,that passed,to,be followed in a year by "any weapon that is not a revolver, a bolt-action rifle specifically designed to hunt game or a shotgun that holds no more than three shells."

  • Atanarjuat||

    Don't forget the LEO exception.

  • Zeb||

    Better make it single action revolvers only. And no speed loaders.

  • EvilWayz||

    Shit, my hunting rifle will go thru IIIA body armor with no trauma plate.

  • JayWye||

    any centerfire hunting rifle fires rounds that will pierce standard soft body armor. Possible some lever-action carbines too.
    Of course,the gungrabbers consider the usual deer hunting rifles to be "scoped sniper rifles",and thus "weapons of war". Even bolt-action rifles.

  • Chipper SQWRLZ of the Wood||

    Stop giving them ideas!

  • LV||

    Don't forget that "police protective armor" shall be construed as "cardigan-style" clothing or "high capacity cotton".

  • Adans smith||

    I' m tired of pudits,pol,and so called military and LEO 'experts' call a .223 a high power weapon. Sure ,it will kill ,and so will hand guns,many of which have standard 15 capacity mags and are used in 97 % of murders..BTW,a .223 is illegal across the river form me in WV to hunt deer due to it's small size and lack of knock down power.

  • dinkster||

    Imagine browning bars replacing all the ar's in the country. Instead of 223 they are now 300 win mags.

  • Cloudbuster||

    "Yes, my AR was an evil black assault rifle -- so I had to trade it in for an M1A."

    .308 Winchester is a fine hunting caliber, not like 5.56 NATO (What? it's like twice as powerful, you say? Unpossible!), and the M1A doesn't have an evil killer pistol grip or the shoulder thing that goes up!

  • Chipper SQWRLZ of the Wood||

    When they qualify the M1A as prohibited, that's the cue, I think.

  • Cloudbuster||

    If they ever allow necked cartridges for deer hunting in my state, I've considered that swapping the barrel of my AR for one in .300 Blackout would make it a fine deer rifle.

    The muzzle energy is about the same, but a 124 gr. .30 cal. bullet will give better penetration and a bigger wound channel.

    Well in or above the league of some rounds it's already legal to hunt deer with here (.45 Colt, .357 magnum).

  • LV||

    "...and so will hand guns,many of which have standard 15 capacity mags and are used in 97 % of murders.."

    I sure hope they don't misread that and think that YOUR handgun is used in 97% of murders. Would not put it past them to do so.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • SugarFree||

    That article made me sick to my ass.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Green t&a is sort of a sci-fi staple, isn't it.

  • ||

    If only we could perfect the law, then we could perfect men.

  • Rich||

    "A troubled man for troubled times, and imperfect laws for imperfect men!"

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Either Obama, Clinton, Collins, and her colleagues at the Times do not know what they are talking about or they are deliberately misleading the public.

    I'm inclined to think it's a bit of both. I suspect that most of these vile little toads are ignorant regarding firearms but do know a good scam when they see one, and have no scruples about running the scam.

  • Win Bear||

    They believe they have to lie and exaggerate in order to convince the stupid American voter to do what (they think) is right. They have said so.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    WCIBB?

  • SugarFree||

    Obama Wants to Ban 'Assault Weapons' but Does Not Know What They Are

    They are the guns that give him the bad feelz. Well, not all the guns that give him the bad feelz, just the ones he thinks he can get away with banning.

  • ||

    The "insurrection" bit is interesting. The left has developed quite the thing in recent years for calling its enemies traitors. Confederate flag waving hillbillies are seditious, Republican congressmen are obstructors, gun nuts are insurrectionists.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • MSimon||

    Don't forget "Democrats like losing elections".

  • Ama-Gi Anarchist||

    Yea, it is interesting that "insurrection" is used, since that is totally the point of the 2nd Amendment: overthrowing the government. And yea, the Left has increasingly gotten into the demonization game....

  • Drake||

    How would a decent 12 gauge, M1A1, or M1 Garand have yielded different results - other than more dead and fewer wounded?

  • UnCivilServant||

    +*BLAM!* *BLAM!* *BLAM!* *BLAM!* *BLAM!* *BLAM!* *BLAM!* *BLAM!* *ping!*

  • Drake||

    I've shot with Korean War Vets who swear they could reload and keep up sustained aimed fire faster with a Garand than the M14 - because they got so fast with those clip reloads.

  • dinkster||

    They didn't have the extra weight of the box holding the bullets either.

  • LarryA||

    A human wave attack of people who want to shoot you then stick you with bayonets is a powerful incentive.

  • Rich||

    Oh, that'll get surfaced at some point.

  • CJR||

    Yeah, that's one of the problems I referenced above. It doesn't require any special gear to chop up a bunch of unarmed office workers.

    Not that any of these laws are actually intended to reduce the number (or impact) of mass shootings...

  • WuzYoungOnceToo||

    Two people with 6-shot revolvers and a sack of speed loaders could have done just as much damage.

  • Kevin Sorbos Manful Locks||

    People who say "the shooter reloaded another clip and kept going" would be factually correct?

  • JayWye||

    Comrade Obama,Hillary,and others KNOW these guns are not machine guns,they INTEND to confuse or mislead the public about them,in order to achieve their bans. After the AR's and AKMs are banned,next will be semi-auto pistols,because they're "easily reloaded" and have "high capacity" magazines. They even intend to go after "scoped sniper rifles",which are the usual and ordinary hunting rifle.

    These people are anti-American.

  • Suicidy||

    Which is why we need an amendment banning marxism, not guns.

  • gaoxiaen||

    That's because you can shoot *too far*.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Shorter Obama: "I really want to use this event to ram through an incremental erosion of gun rights in my last days in office to ensure the lefty historians sing my praises forever."

  • JayWye||

    these are the same folks who in 1994 banned the TEC-9 pistol( a piece of garbage) as an "assault weapon",because it LOOKED like a machine gun,despite it having the SAME functionality and firing the same round as the usual Glock police officer's carry.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    The funny part is that it was banned by name in 1994. The company made some cosmetic changes to it and rebranded it the TEC-DC9 to get around the ban.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Yes, the semi-auto versions of machine pistols are really pretty funny. You give up the only thing that makes their comparatively large size reasonable (automatic fire), and what you're left with is a really large, clunky 9mm pistol.

  • WuzYoungOnceToo||

    what you're left with is a really large, clunky 9mm pistol

    ...that's relatively unreliable, inaccurate, difficult to shoot well (the triggers on those things are generally abominable), etc.

    If I were ever in a self-defense firefight I'd MUCH rather my opponent be armed with something like a TEC-9 than any "conventional" pistol.

  • Rich||

    "It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency."

    Civilians should be legally permitted to purchase only *shitty* "weapons".

  • Tejicano||

    Well now I can breathe a sigh of relief. All of my guns kill with non-brutal speed.

  • Daily Beatings||

    Hi-Points for everyone!

  • Win Bear||

    Henceforth, all guns shall not look scary: http://tinyurl.com/lj2p4fa

  • gaoxiaen||

  • simplybe||

    What most of the media isn't mentioning is the no fly list. They can put anyone on it without telling the person. There is no trial and no appeal. It is totally arbitrary. They could say all people that voice an opinion different than the current administration and you can't fly or own a gun. Welcome to a dictatorship.

  • Zeb||

    I don't know if "dictatorship" is quite the word. Where's the dictator?

    Welcome to government. That's how they do it.

  • Loki||

    Perhaps "tyranny" would be a better adjective.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    I really think "Fascism" fits best.

    This Administration is damn near the Oxford Dictionary definition.

    I'd really like some progtard to compare and contrast Obama and Il Duce for me sometime ...

  • AlmightyJB||

    And neither one of those assholes were on that list but that was proof that we need that rule. Perfect

  • Zeb||

    There are never any proposals that would have stopped the incident in question when these things happen. Except maybe something about mental health in the case of real crazies like Loughner or Lanza. But that comes with a whole host of other problems.

  • Foo_dd||

    plus, the just say "mental health." they never get explicit on what they would do.

  • BigT||

    Assault weapon

    Budget cuts

    Climate change

    Warming pause

    What do these phrases have in common?

    They are gross misrepresentations of the issue at hand specifically designed to mislead. Straight out of Alinsky

    He who controls the language controls the masses

    ,

    ... a modern version of Joseph Goebbels.

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
  • MSimon||

    There is no warming pause and we have adjusted the numbers to prove it.

  • MSimon||

    And on a more political note:

    Huma Abedin is from Pakistan. One of the San Bernardino shooters Tashfeen Malik was born in Pakistan. Her husband, the other shooter, Syed Rizwan Farook’s parents were born in Pakistan.

    Obama, Hillary, and the Muslim Brotherhood connection

  • Suicidy||

    Deport Huma.

  • vtaero||

    um...
    WRT .223/5.56 "low-caliber rounds that are less deadly than those used in many handguns"

    .223/5.56 is much more deadly than all but a few (uncommon) specialty handgun cartridges.

    caliber does not equal deadliness

  • MSimon||

    I get 5.6642. As in .223 X 25.4. I guess gun makers don't do math. Pity.

  • Zeb||

    From what I've read about different rounds, the caliber number rarely corresponds to the actual size of the bullet. And I don't think the spec for .223 and 5.56 are identical, though they are interchangeable. Similar story with .308 Win. and 7.62x51.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Difference is in the loading pressures. Most modern firearms are built to function well with either.

    Some older weapons have more limited pressure top ends, or very finicky gas systems that need to be adjusted for different pressure rounds.

    The vast majority of the "deadliness" of a bullet is a function of mass and feed.

    5.56 rounds have approximately the same diameter as the lowly .22 Long Rifle, but they're sectionally longer, so are significantly heavier (55-70 gr. vs. 30-40 gr.), and they are propelled by a massively larger, higher pressure powder charge. They're a very fast round. And speed is squared in the bullet energy calculation so a light, fast round is carrying a lot of kinetic energy. But, being light, they tend to dump that energy pretty quickly.

    So, you can have a slower heavier projectile that has the same energy as a lighter, faster projectile and they are roughly equivalently "deadly" but they will transmit that energy in different ways when they hit a target. Other things being equal, 5.56 mm rounds are more easily deflected than 7.62 mm rounds of equivalent energy, so they penetrate less, yaw more, fragment more. That can be great in certain situations -- home defense, for example.

    They're just about right for a human-sized target, a little on the light side when you want to make sure you punch a big wound through a deer and don't deflect and tumble erratically after hitting a rib.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Um, "mass and speed." :/

  • vtaero||

    same thing for .308
    .308*25.4=7.82 not 7.62

    Reason is that the English standard uses groove diameter and metric uses land diameter.
    If you look at the wikipedia page for 5.56 nato you will see that the bullet diameter listed is 5.7 mm (.224 inches) which is the same as a .223 Remington bullet (jacketed bullets are typically about 0.001" oversize.

    The English version makes more sense to me because as you can see there is a way to know the bullet diameter by looking at the size designation.

  • JayWye||

    not all .22 cal bullets have the same exact diameter. So ammo makers vary the designation slightly to differentiate between them.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.223_Remington

  • Drake||

    That's an old debate and depends on a whole bunch of stuff - bullet type, barrel twist, distance, where a person is hit, and random chance. Hit through the brain, heart, or major artery with anything and you probably die.

  • vtaero||

    The "old debate" is between 9mm, .40S&W, and .45 ACP. All pistol rounds. And, I think that debate is a dumb one.

    There is no debate about whether or not 5.56 (and other intermediate rifle cartridges) are more deadly than pistols.

  • Gray Ghost||

    The "old debate" is between 9mm, .40S&W, and .45 ACP. All pistol rounds. And, I think that debate is a dumb one.

    Exactly. Given modern bullets, they all expand to about the same diameter---between .5 and .8 of an inch---and provided they penetrate sufficiently, they have similar effects on the human body.

  • Bgoptmst||

    http://www.ar15.com/ammo/proje...../index.htm

    There are some good charts here with what the rounds do in terms of wound pattern. Of note, what grain/type of bullet you are firing has a huge impact (literal and figurative).

    Also, I would rather be shot at with an AR then a nut job with a pump shotgun full of slug.

  • Gray Ghost||

    To paraphrase the Box O Truth, rifles are rifles and pistols are pistols. Their respective wounds are qualitatively different from each other. Pistol bullet wounds damage tissue for roughly the diameter of the bullet, as far as the bullet penetrates, and no further. Rifle wounds have the potential to damage tissue for a much greater radius due to tissue shear from cavitation and fragmentation. Pistol bullets for the most part just don't go fast enough for cavitation to play a role in wounding.

    AR and AK pistols do change things up a bit though.

  • vtaero||

    The box of truth is excellent. Shooting stuff is fun.

    But those are still rifle rounds. There are rifles that shoot pistol rounds as well but they dont do the same damage as an intermediate rifle cartridge. And lets be honest, the only reason AR and AK pistols exist as a thing is because of the NFA SBR crap. Otherwise, they would all be rifles with barrels that just happen to be shorter than some other rifles have.

  • Gray Ghost||

    And lets be honest, the only reason AR and AK pistols exist as a thing is because of the NFA SBR crap.

    True. It's strange that the 2nd mentions the militia, and yet the primary weapon for a rifleman---an M4 select-fire carbine---the modern musket, is pretty much impossible for the hoi polloi to own due to the '86 registry law, and a semi-auto version is a PITA to obtain because of the sub-16 inch rule.

  • vtaero||

    The National Firearms Act was the assault weapons ban of that generation. They repealed there other most asinine law (alcohol prohibition) and then pass a gun prohibition. Apparently they didn't learn. Still stuck with their assault weapons ban.

    At least we can legally put together the equivalent of a designated marksman rifle and they didn't bother with sniper weapons.

    On the military comparison note, one of my favorite things to point out is that the civilian version of 7.62x51 is actually more powerful.

  • kbolino||

    The National Firearms Act was the assault weapons ban of that generation. They repealed there other most asinine law (alcohol prohibition) and then pass a gun prohibition.

    A cynical mind might observe that the ultimate goal of Prohibition was not to ban alcohol but to create a federal system of control over firearms.

  • JayWye||

    AR or AK pistols LOSE a LOT of muzzle velocity because of the short barrel,and gain a huge muzzle flash due to unburned powder burning outside the short barrel. So the bullet from a AR or AK pistol is going to have much less impact energy than the same round fired from a 16" barrel.

  • EvilWayz||

    ORLY. You give me a choice between any commonly used pistol round ( 9mm, .40sw, .357sig, .45acp) or a 5.56 ball round and I'll take the 5.56 everytime.

  • simplybe||

    As I pointed out in another blog if the couple had walked into the room with a 22lr the death toll would have been higher because of no recoil and had they came in with machetes the carnage would have been worse.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Let's not go overboard. 5.56 mm rounds are orders of magnitude more deadly than .22 LR and the recoil of an AR is extremely mild.

  • WuzYoungOnceToo||

    As I pointed out in another blog if the couple had walked into the room with a 22lr the death toll would have been higher because of no recoil...

    You think rifles chambered in .223/5.56 suffer from recoil in any meaningful sense of the word?

  • BioBehavioral_View||

    Damnable Lies

    So, believe neither Big Government nor Big Media. They lie to us by commission and omission. No, the so-called assault-weapon to which they incorrectly refer is not — say again, is not — an automatic firearm as they would have us believe.

    Few commentators seem to possess the courage to state the facts as they are. Financial Times, The NYT, The Washington Post, National Review Online, and NPR among them. What so affrights them? The truth?

    Anyone can criticize Christianity with impunity, quoting Judeo-Christian scripture. Not so with Mohammedanism and quoting its scripture, the Koran. How often does one hear or read the quoting of the Koran by the Media? Hardly ever, if then! Why? It preaches intolerance and war throughout.

    “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. Know that God is with the righteous.” -The Recital (The Koran), Repentance 9:123

    The notion that Mohammed preached moderation is simply untrue. Read the Koran!

    We “infidels” outside the Mohammedan world must deal with the obvious threats presented, the damnable lies by Big Government and Big Media notwithstanding. Its believing adherents have the courage of their convictions. Our non-believing apologists seem to have only the conviction of their cowardice.

    See “Islam: ‘Friending’ The Foe” at ...
    http://nationonfire.com/catego.....relations/ .

  • Loki||

    An "assault weapon" is any gun that can be used to assault someone, duh... /progtard

  • Loki||

    It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.

    Fuck. Off. Slavers. That describes pretty much every firearm ever made. The whole point of firearms is that they can be used by literally anyone with a few minutes of training. Firearms literally helped make feudal society obsolete because there was no longer any point to having a special class of warriors who spent their entire lives training to fight with swords and spears. The printing press democratized literacy and writing, firearms democratized war and gave commoners the ability to resist their so-called "betters."

    I guess it should be no surprise that the proggie elitists want to get rid of the big scary guns, nothing frightens them more than the thought of the peasants being able to resist their attempts to control everyone's lives. What these assclowns really want, more than anything, is a return to Feudalism with themselves at the top. So it bares repeating: Fuck. Off. Slavers.

  • The Grinch||

    It isn't that Obama et al doesn't understand what an assault rifle is or what automatic vs semiautomatic capability is. They know exact what they're doing and are deliberately lying to an ignorant public to gin up fear and to cloud the issue in general. The Reason writers need to quit giving these fucks the benefit of the doubt.

  • retiredfire||

    And doesn't this talk distract us from the real threat?
    It is always the person behind the gun and what their ideology is that is the concern 0blama, and his ilk, don't want us to look at.
    "Sensible gun restrictions"="Look, a squirrel"

  • Foo_dd||

    "Either Obama, Clinton, Collins, and her colleagues at the Times do not know what they are talking about or they are deliberately misleading the public."

    i know what my guess is. when talking to grabbers, one thing is clear... they hate all guns. the "assault weapon" horse shit is just an attempt to ban what they can get away with, but they really would prefer banning them all.

  • LarryA||

    According to the Mother Jones tally of such crimes, handguns are by far the most commonly used weapon, accounting for 94 of 143 firearms used by mass shooters, or 66 percent.

    And if you want a really one-sided comparison, remind Collins that the three worst mass murders since 1990 involved no firearms:
    Happy Land night club - 87 dead - can of gasoline;
    Murrah Federal Building - 168 dead - truck of fertilizer;
    9/11 - 3,000 dead - box cutters.

    Oh, wait. Those aren't "gun deaths," so they supposedly don't count.

  • ace_m82||

    semiautomatic weapons are totally inappropriate for either hunting or home defense

    Man, I keep hunting deer and grouse with "inappropriate" guns!, In fact, it's been years since I've hunted deer with an "appropriate" gun.

    Also, my house has several loaded guns in it that are apparently "inappropriate" for home defense! I've got to get some more...maybe a S&W Governor with Federal handgun specific buckshot...I'll have to let the wife know.

  • retiredfire||

    0blama, HiLIARy and the like, are the best gun salesmen that have ever existed.

  • Sean Higgins||

    Here's a question for anyone who knows: Where/when did the term "assault weapon" originate? Is this something that legislators came up with? Or was it the anti-gun activists? Or did it exist independent of those two groups and they simply co-opted the term because "let's ban assault weapons" polled better than "let's ban rifles"?

    I seem to recall it hearing used in a military context way back when, but cannot say for sure. Anyone know?

  • ace_m82||

    20 mins of Googling, even reading Media matters (shudder) got me... nowhere. It's a term that no-one claims to have invented and means nothing.

  • Suicidy||

    Kind of like progressives in general.

  • Akira||

    I *heard* this somewhere on some gun forum: "assault weapon" is sometimes used by military personnel to describe weapons that would be used during an assault, which would include small arms, grenades, rocket launchers, etc.

    I'm not sure if it's true, and I'm no military expert, but that's what I heard, for what it's worth.

  • JayWye||

    Assault RIFLE is the correct term for military combat rifles.

    "assault weapons" is a made-up term from the gun control lobby.
    it is INTENDED to get people confused about semi-auto rifles and already-regulated machine guns.(NFA weapons)

    note the latest media catchphrase is "weapons of war".

    there is NO military in the world that uses semi-auto rifles or any of the firearms covered in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban,that were ALL semi-auto guns.

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  • the other Jim||

    I had a debate with a colleague this AM about gun control, mostly because I wanted to understand what exactly a typical DC liberal really wants in terms of policy changes. She couldn't really articulate any specific change, but it became apparent that what she really wants is a ban on assault rifles/assault weapons (or whatever you call them). I pointed out to her that the vast majority of gun homicides are committed by handguns, not rifles. She didn't care. I pointed out that the overall murder rate is down by about half from 20 years ago. Didn't care. I pointed out that military-style rifles aren't more lethal than many hunting rifles in terms of their hitting power. Didn't care.

    For her, it was all about banning scary-looking weapons that "no one could possibly need." I wasn't so much arguing back as trying to understand what she wants changed, but this was all I could get. She explicitly said she doesn't want to ban hand guns.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Meanwhile...

    Still legal as gasoline in 49 states

    Show that to your colleague. Then tell her anyone can homebrew a zip of these from common Home Depot items.

    Then direct her to fundamental nature of entropy and the 2nd law. The universe is built to be on the terrorists' side. Sorry kids.

  • Suicidy||

    Your link does not appear to work.

  • Jam4Joy||

    It's a flame thrower.
    Which by the way, can we not bring up too loud? It would be annoying as all hell if they banned these. I have to use a flamethrower several times a year to perform controlled burns.

  • the original jack||

    I never debate anyone in person about gun control unless I get a clear affirmation beforehand about how they go thru their decision-making process.

    If they state that logic and reason are not their prime movers for understanding the world around them then I simply tell them it is not worth it to discuss a subject that needs logic and reason to understand.

  • the other Jim||

    That is a wise policy. I usually try to follow it, too. I regretted getting into this conversation almost from the get-go. Still, it was fascinating to hear the extreme contempt she felt for "those people" who feel the need to have "those guns." Lots of "why does anyone want a gun like that?" type of questions, posed in exasperated tones. Whenever I tried to get her to voice a specific criticism or policy preference, I was met with a blank stare.

    What struck me most (and I think this is a somewhat common attitude on the Left) is that she really didn't seem to care about the recent decline in gun violence. She is upset about the random spree killings and thinks she could be killed in one. But 10,000 fewer homicides per year? Meh. That's just "ordinary" crime, the kind that doesn't affect her.

    Just...impossible to reason with.

  • Suicidy||

    Progressives are unreasoning things devoid of a soul. They are driven by dark emotions. That is what gives them their power. Much like Sith and the dark side of the force. Just without much cognitive function. Or force powers.

  • rudehost||

    Let me take a moment to explain the end game here.

    Your odds of being murdered by any long gun including "assault weapons" are less than your odds of being struck by lightning. Handguns are overwhelmingly the weapon of choice for murders. So the game plan goes something like this.

    1. Get your ban and confiscation of "assault weapons" as a "compromise"

    2. Given these are not involved in murders crime levels don't change so wait for either another mass shooting incident or a spike in crime

    3. When that happens make the case that we already banned assault weapons which are actually a smaller problem so if we can ban those why can't we ban the handguns that are really the problem.

    They just need to set the precedent for something to get banned and confiscated and then they can appeal to that precedent to justify why additional confiscations are "reasonable". Picking the guns that are the least dangerous first is simply debate leverage to show why if we can ban something that has been relatively innocuous that banning something that is more harmful should be a no brainer.

  • the original jack||

    "Machine guns are already strictly regulated by the federal government, which since 1986 has banned them for civilian use."

    jacob, if you are going to write an article claiming that other people don't know firearm laws it is important for you to actually get the laws correct yourself. It is perfectly legal for people to own machine guns under federal law, and the law in most states.

    Here is a good explanation from the NRA website...

    http://tinyurl.com/grxjo96

  • DaveSs||

    Its a red-tape ban.

    The time and expense involved is well beyond what most people would go through.

  • the original jack||

    true... but we have an obligation to be correct about the law.

  • Dan Bongard||

    As a single-sentence description, "banned them for civilian use" is as accurate as the statement "Jim Crow laws prevented black people from voting in many southern states".

    Yes, there are technicalities and edge cases for which it is not entirely true, but not every declarative statement has to exhaustively cover all of the angles.

  • perlchpr||

    Heh. This is what I clicked forward to comment about. :D

  • TimothyLane||

    As liberals, they would naturally be ready to bloviate on a subject despite being totally ignorant about it. It's possible that they're just lying, of course, At the very least, they don't care in the slightest whether their demagoguery has any truth to it. As long as it fools even one voter, that's all that matters. And they get to feel good about themselves for spouting such nonsense.

  • Jim176||

    In my opinion the biggest problem here is that the liberals are morally flawed. Conservatives like the 2nd amendment because we trust our fellow citizens and neighbors more than we trust the government while liberals do not trust other people and yet think the government is trust worthy even though it is made up of those very same people. They are morally bankrupt.

  • rudehost||

    "we trust our fellow citizens and neighbors more than we trust the government"

    Very true unless your neighbor plans to smoke some weed or something then not so much.

  • Ghost of Rod Serling||

    It's stories like these you will only find..... Inside the twilight zone

  • uunderstand||

    . . . targeting "assault weapons" based on their "menacing looks," . . .

    The wife has given me some looks that would make her an assault weapon.

  • EvilWayz||

    Ah yes, more bullshit from the party of "ghost guns" and "the shoulder thing that goes up." Morons.

  • bassjoe||

    Why does this warrant a whole article? Creating new "legal" definitions for things through legislation is nothing new nor surprising.

  • jennidavid3||

    my co-worker's sister-in-law makes $71 every hour on the computer . She has been fired for five months but last month her income was $16368 just working on the computer for a few hours. see page.......... http://www.earni8.com

  • Alan@.4||

    The term "assault weapons" doesn't have much meaning even with legislation. Actually an "assault weapon" is ANYTHING that one person has at another with, the maudlin ramblings of political types/lawmakers notwithstanding.

    On the other hand, "assault rifle" is a specific military-technical term, the semantically challenged take note, Assault Rifle: Selective Fire Weapon, Usually of Rifle Configuration, Chambered For Intermediate Cartridge. Such arms are, by the way, regulated in federal law, see The National Firearm Act of 1934, 81 year old legislation, still on the federal books. Some state laws have something to say also. Yo bad that so many in public life, political types,law makers and such are or pretend to be ignorant of the law and of facts too.

    Unfortunately, public ignorance, the lack of information, plays into the hands of the anti gun,anti gun rights, anti constitutional rights cabal, from whom, thanks to it's media water carriers, so much idiotic babel is seen, read and heard. Enough, one so hopes, said.

  • JayWye||

    Assault RIFLE is the correct term for military combat rifles.

    "assault weapons" is a made-up term from the gun control lobby.
    it is INTENDED to get people confused about semi-auto rifles and already-regulated machine guns.(NFA weapons)

    note the latest media catchphrase is "weapons of war".

    there is NO military in the world that uses semi-auto rifles or any of the firearms covered in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban,that were ALL semi-auto guns.

  • WuzYoungOnceToo||

    It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency.

    Ban the English long bow!!!!

  • Kevin Sorbos Manful Locks||

    Stop pandering to the French Knight lobby!

  • TDHawkes||

    Are you sure you aren't using semantics to provide a cover for mass murderers?

  • Rockabilly||

    Obama's marxist allies are calling for Domestic Disarmament, Not 'Gun Control'

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....lp00000592

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    THIS is a weapon.

  • DoubleDon||

    The definition of semiautomatic in the article is overly restrictive. It is possible for a firearm to be semiautomatic without being autoloading. To wit: a semiautomatic firearm is one in which only pulling the trigger results in the firing of one shot for each trigger pull until the available store of ammunition has been exhausted and at least two shots are so available. Thus the term semiautomatic encompasses a substantial plurality of the firearms popularly used for hunting. It should also be noted that the double action revolver (commercially available since the 1870s) is also semiautomatic. The major difference between an autoloading semiautomatic pistol and a double action revolver is the speed of replenishing the store of ammunition once the initial loading has been exhausted.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    but the news is always quick to point out that the bad guy used a "semiautomatic handgun" as if that's some special type that deserves to be banned.

    Now I get an email from OFA labeling the No-Fly thing as a "loophole". I asked on their Facebook page, "So, it's a loophole that people never even charged with a crime still have constitutional rights?"

  • Akira||

    "Now I get an email from OFA labeling the No-Fly thing as a "loophole"."

    I find it really funny that the Left is stupid enough to bring up the "no fly, no buy" concept. They were throwing a shitfit (rightfully so) when BOOOOOSH was in office, but now all of a sudden, the no-fly list is a totally accurate way to determine whose rights we can invalidate.

    How about this: if you're on the no-fly list, you can't vote either! Why not? If they're too dangerous to fly and too dangerous to trust with a firearm, why should they get a say in who leads rules our country? The Left would be totally cool with that, right?

  • dchang0||

    And yet Obama is perfectly happy to send select-fire M16s to "moderate rebels" who just happen to claim to be aligned with the USA, but who would turn on us in an instant.

    In other words, if you are on the Obama admin's side, here's your free gun. If you're against the Obama admin (like Republicans in general), he wants to take your guns away.

  • Evangelical||

    Obama is sending guns to people in an active warzone, with the intent of fighting a war. So are you openly admitting guns are used for war, and have no place in a peaceful civilian setting?

  • MSimon||

    I'm awaiting action on pepper guns.

  • ConstitutionFirst||

    # 1 assault weapon is a baseball bat or it's equivalent.
    # 2 assault weapon is a knife, then firearms comes in at 3rd.
    So if we are to talk seriously about preventing assault then the top two weapons must be discussed.
    Finally, if we removed the top seven (Democrat controlled) cities we would be the seventh safest country in the world.
    If we removed gang bangers from the country, we would be the safest nation in the world.
    The pussy in the White Hut has no intention of addressing the real causes of violence problem in this Republic because the vast majority of the problem, he owns.

  • MikeK||

    The hysterical reaction of the left has led many people, especially women who had never owned a gun, to buy pistols and even semi-automatic rifles like AR 15s. Someone from Mars might wonder if Obama has stock in Ruger and Smith & Wesson, both of which are up 700% since he took office.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Your mission, Tashfeen, should you decide to accept it, is to open fire on a roomful of government employees and help President Obama's party secure the legislation our jihadists need to keep them safe from return fire. As always, should you or any of your Mission Islamico force be killed or captured, the Taliban will disavow all knowledge of your actions and blame the NRA and Second Amendment.

  • Epigynum||

    "... the federal "assault weapon" ban would have had no impact on either of those mass shootings, since it did not cover the guns used to commit them."

    Didn't the federal law cover magazines larger than 10 rounds? One of the rifles used in San Bernardino had a larger magazine (illegal in California, but legal in most other states). I think the Newtown massacre involved larger magazines too.

  • rbbloodworth||

    Actually, civilians can legally obtain and own automatic weapons.

    The 1986 law prevented the manufacture of new automatic weapons (defined as a registered receiver, the part of the weapon generally responsible for automatic fire) for civilian consumption. So that law capped the number of eligible receivers at somewhere around 300,000 +/-. Prices have risen drastically, and an automatic AR15/M16 can run you around $20,000. Plus there's a great deal of red tape, too. One has to submit to a thorough background check. Automatic weapons are classified as a Class III item, which includes suppressors, short barreled rifles, and short barreled shotguns. The paperwork can be heavy. The waiting period is 3-12months. Once cleared and allowed to purchase, your local Chief Law Enforcement officer (CLEO) must sign off on you owning and possessing such a weapon. You cannot cross state lines with it, and you must always keep the paperwork with you if you use the weapon. Only when you set up an NFA trust can to skirt some of this, but it's still generally troublesome.

    So yes, civilians can and do still own automatic weapons. Since 1986, only two murders have occurred where someone used a legally owned automatic weapon.

  • Evangelical||

    You "Libertarians" are disappointingly stupid. Most Americans did not own guns in the 1700s, the first "battle" of the Revolutionary War was to defend an Armory where the local militia kept their guns, from the British taking the Armory and depriving the militia of their fire arms.

    The 2nd Amendment means (per the FEDERALIST PAPERS) that you have to belong to a state-ran militia to have the "right to bear arms".

    This has been "overlooked" in an effort to arm blacks after the Civil War, that is it. There is no other logical reason, other than blacks were being terrorized by white militias with guns called the KKK, that "EVERYONE AND THEIR GRANDMA" should have a gun.

    You all bought a bunch of NRA propaganda like a bunch of cock smoking homos.

  • pushpadevi||

  • ||

    As far as these titans of thought (Obama, Hildabeast, & the like) - If you pull the trigger and a bullet comes out the end, their response is: Ban It.

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