As we reported back in March, Teen Vogue is on an antigun agitprop jag. In the aftermath of The Pulse nightclub massacre, the editors wants their teenage charges to be au fait with the term “assault rifle.” Under the headline What Are Assault Rifles, this is what passes for their definition.
Large, military-style rifles are often called “assault weapons,” though the gun industry calls them “modern sporting rifles.” These weapons were originally designed for military use, and they’re built for combat. Many were illegal in the U.S. from 1994 to 2004 under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Since the ban expired in 2004, they’ve become both popular and controversial.
Here’s the Justice Department’s definition of an assault weapon, according to CNN: “In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use.”
Assault rifles, like the popular AR-15, usually fire smaller bullets than handguns. But they’re capable of firing many more bullets without reloading, which makes them potentially more lethal.
The AR-15 is the most popular assault rifle in the U.S., and was originally designed to give U.S. soldiers an advantage over Russian-made AK-47 rifles during the Vietnam War. The M-16, a military adaptation of the gun, was the standard-issue U.S. military infantry weapon from 1969 to around 2011, when it was replaced.
California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey have their own state-level assault weapons bans. As The San Diego Union Tribune pointed out in 2013, there’s no one definition of an assault rifle. Relatively minor changes can make the same weapon fit into the category or not. And while some of those changes could make the weapon less deadly, not all do.
Here’s the really strange not-to-say off-putting bit: wikipedia.org offers a perfectly serviceable definition of an assault rifle. All TeenVogue had to do was click over, copy and paste. I guess that was a bridge too far for the editors, who are all too happy to perpetuate the same old myths and misunderstandings about America’s most popular rifle.