Over in the Ministry of Newspeak, the leading lights who run the Merriam-Webster dictionary have taken the occasion of the Parkland massacre to update their definition of what constitutes an “assault rifle”. Here’s the pre-Parkland version:
noun: any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles with large capacity magazines designed for military use
noun: any of various intermediate-range, magazine-fed military rifles (such as the AK-47) that can be set for automatic or semiautomatic fire; also : a rifle that resembles a military assault rifle but is designed to allow only semiautomatic fire
Got that? According to M-W, any rifle that even looks like a scary AR or AK is a weapon of war.
We, the People of the Gun, lost this definitional battle long ago. The forces of civilian disarmament have successfully labeled pretty much any long gun an assault weapon, as long as it’s black and semi-automatic. And it has a couple of innocuous, utterly meaningless features about which politicians and gun grabbers are utterly ignorant.
I don’t mean to be rude but you’re wrong. It’s actually true that the “AR” stands for “Assault Rifle”
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) March 30, 2018
Citing actual history and pointing out little things like facts about what truly makes a rifle an assault weapon is just an exercise in futility now. Besides, we’ve already been upbraided in the pages of the Washington Post for having the temerity to point out errors on the part of those who would dearly love to ban these and other firearms from civilian use. You don’t want to be accused of gunsplaining, do you?
Still, words mean things. And even if it’s only for our own satisfaction, it’s nice to be accurate when we talk about America’s most popular long guns. So go ahead, give us your definition of an assault rifle.