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Assault weapon

Assault weapon or "assault-style weapon" is a nebulous term used in the United States by public officials, media, and gun-control proponents as a dysphemism to refer to any firearms they consider inappropriate for civilian ownership or look particulary menacing. Congress has frequently changed and discussed changing the definition of the term.

Many (but not all) assault weapons share these characteristics:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives defines an "Assault Weapon" (for a rifle) as any semi-automatic rifle with the capability to accept two or more of the following features:

For a pistol as any semi-automatic pistol which has the ability to accept a removeable magazine, and has two or more of the following features:

This ban leaves many gray areas, and has no exemption for collectors.

The frequent and erroneous use of the term assault rifle by media and gun control supporters when reporting on or discussing assault weapons has produced a popular and intentional misconception that assault weapons are fully-automatic machine guns. The terms are used interchangeably in an effort to confuse the less-informed public and to get them to oppose "assault-style" firearms.

Assault weapons and their owners are frequently criticized by certain disarmament groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Million Mom March, and other organizations. Those who would own assault weapons often cite novelty, collectibility, riot control, and civil defense as justification. Those who would outlaw assault weapons cite cultural utilitarianism and other societal justifications such as public safety from a perceived threat to stability presented by private ownership of assault weapons.

Many countries prohibit or heavily restrict the ownership of true assault rifles by private citizens.

See also: assault weapons ban, assault rifle