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NSSF: It’s a Modern Sporting Rifle Dammit

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is the American firearms industry’s lobby group. And a damn fine job it does too. Only sometimes not so much. Two years ago, the NSSF launched a campaign to “re-brand” assault rifles as “modern sporting rifles.” Yes, well, anyone remember the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1993? No? How about “The Federal Assault Weapons Ban”? Well exactly. Still, when  Eric at Gunmart Blog wrote an essay entitled I Dont like the Term “Modern Sporting Rifle,” the NSSF felt obliged to defend their failed attempt at Orwellian language modification and accuse our pal of sedition . . .

Whenever someone in the gun-owning community mistakenly calls an AR-platform rifle an assault rifle or an automatic rifle, they are assisting anti-gun organizations and lawmakers who are eager to introduce legislation to restrict ownership of these and potentially other semiautomatic firearms.

To date, NSSF has had a great response to its educational initiative. The term modern sporting rifle has been widely adopted by the firearms industry and by many leading media outlets.

NSSF continues to ask that media, gun owners and others use the term modern sporting rifle when describing AR-platform rifles, but if for some reason you cannot bring yourself to do so, then we ask you to refer to these firearms by their proper model name and number. Those from the gun-owning community who label them assault rifles are damaging an industry and potentially the right to own these popular semiautomatic rifles. They will also find that those individuals who like their columns best are not their friends.

Like George Bush, you’re either for us or against us? Ridiculous. Eric is one of the good guys. He’s no more giving aid and succor to “the enemy” by suggesting the “normalization” of the term “assault rifle” than Wayne LaPierre is when he insists “the guys with the guns make the rules.”

In fact, Eric raised the issue to pro-gun folks could be more effective in their defense of the right to keep and bear arms.

One of the best things about the NSSF: it appeals to the American mainstream (unlike some three-letter gun rights groups we could name). For the org to get its knickers in a twist about firearms nomenclature is a bit . . . petty. Anyway, as we all know, the proper name for this genre of rifle is “modern home defense sporting target COD rifle.”


  1. avatar TL671 says:

    There rifles dammit, I move that we just call all shoulder fired, rifled barrel firearms, rifles. Or does that make too much sense?

    1. avatar Derek says:

      I never really got into the semantics of this one. It’s a rifle, or a carbine, period. Honestly I think I never cared much because I’m used to talking to people who know what an AK/AR (insert model #/designation of popular rifle here) etc are so I just use that.

  2. avatar JTB says:

    Repeal the assault weapons ban now! Oh wait…

  3. avatar Blazer says:

    So should I be shopping for an MSR-15 now?

    1. avatar rybred says:

      Just an FYI but the “AR” in AR-15/10 etc stands for “Armalite Rifle” NOT Assault Rifle. It was named after the original manufacturer/design company

  4. avatar ScottH says:

    The video isn’t even factually accurate. Semi-automatic rifles were 1st used with hunters before they were adopted by the military. See Remington Model 8 and Model 81. After WWII they may have become more widespread but their use in hunting didn’t derive its origin from military usage.

    Personally I don’t really care what they are called. Semi-automatic rifles have been in common use for decades. Common arms are protected via the Heller decision. Even Justice Kennedy considers an AR a rifle in common use. Antis can go pound sand on that one.

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    I call ’em “child killing vicious black assualt rifles for killing people.” Happy now?

    BTW, Stoner’s original black rifle was a hunting rifle. He later adapted it for military use when he saw the potential for huge sales, which he never obtained. Then he sold the whole “shooting match” to Colt, who had the marketing and government contacts to sell the gun to the military.

  6. avatar sdog says:

    “child killing vicious black assualt rifles for killing people.”

    and puppies.

  7. avatar Ordine Nuovo says:

    How can anyone call the AR platform a “modern” sporting weapon? It was introduced in the 1960s…

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:

      Post-modern sporting weapon?

      1. avatar Ben Eli says:

        I would say pre-modern but post-antique

  8. avatar Swavy2k says:

    I honestly think the NSSF is right. They are not assault rifles. And if the skeet shooters and they hunters and the rimfire shooters aren’t all onboard and supportive of modern sporting rifles, then that is the first step the anti’s will take. Again.

    Yes. You are either for us or against us. It makes no difference whether it’s the Brady bunch or pheasant hunter, if they don’t think we need an AR, they are not a friend.

  9. avatar HSR47 says:

    I disagree with the titling of the article/video — it just lends legitimacy to the concept of “sporting purposes” which is a totally unconstitutional metric.

    As for the other points of the video, I generally agree.

    1. avatar booker says:

      I agree, but I think the NSSF is specifically focusing on the modern semi-automatic rifle, based upon a full-automatic military rifle, and its utility and viability as a hunting rifle. That it can be an excellent hunting rifle does not preclude that it can also be an excellent home defense rifle, competition rifle, homeland defense rifle, law enforcement rifle, or collector item.

      Many AR-15s (and other AR variants) have been built and configured specifically for long range accuracy, especially when chambered in .223. Likewise, variants for small game are very popular, as are those with .22 uppers for rodents and marksmanship training/practice.

  10. avatar Jon says:

    Am I the only one that calls them just “rifles”?

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