Firearms retailers report that many firearm customers are interested in buying semi-automatic rifles that have a military look to them. There is much confusion among the public and the media about how these rifles function and about their legitimate uses for target shooting and hunting. Often incorrectly referred to as semi-automatic “assault weapons,” they are the type of firearms that President-elect Obama has indicated he would seek to ban by making permanent the expired 1994 so-called “assault weapons” ban.
To help promote accurate reporting about these commonplace semi-automatic firearms, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has produced a media resource page located on the NSSF.org Web site in the Media Resources section at http://nssf.org/media/FactSheets/Semi-Auto_Background.cfm. There are helpful videos that explain the difference between fully automatic military and semi-automatic military look-alike rifles, and a Q&A section. Of course, NSSF spokespersons are always available to assist media with their questions.
Few media stories have explained the difference between true fully automatic military assault rifles and the politically labeled, so-called “assault rifle.” A true assault rifle — the M-16 and AK-47 are examples — is a fully automatic military weapon capable of continuous firing as long as the trigger is depressed, like a machine gun. Automatic firearms were severely restricted from civilian ownership by the 1934 National Firearms Act. By comparison, the politically labeled so-called “assault rifle”– the AR-15 is an example — looks like its military counterpart but functions only as a semi-automatic, firing just one round with each pull of the trigger, similar to many deer rifles and shotguns used to break clay targets. These semi-automatic rifles can be purchased and owned by civilians who pass the standard FBI background check. Although it has a modern military look, the semi-automatic rifle’s operation is very different from a military machine gun and, in fact, is based on 100-year-old technology. It is NOT a “machine gun,” but those who would ban it would have you think so.
These semi-automatic rifles are driving the market for firearm sales because they are a relatively new product that provides owners with a durable and reliable firearm. These rifles are used for target shooting, varmint hunting and deer hunting, as well as being an option for home defense.