Semi-automatic rifles are commonplace guns that are used in National Match competition, tactical competitions, hunting, recreational shooting, and for self-defense. A "well regulated" citizens militia, mentioned in the Second Amendment, would use these rifles. Many peace officers privately own these rifles. There are more than twelve million semi-automatic rifles in civilian possession ranging in caliber from .22 to .50. Four to five million of these are "military style" rifles. However, semi-automatic rifles are used in less than 2% of crimes using guns.
Semi-automatic rifles, like handguns, fire one round each time the trigger is pulled.
Fully automatic rifles like the military uses have been illegal and unavailable for civilians without special BATF licensing since 1934. These rifles fire multiple rounds when the trigger is pulled.
The term "assault rifle" is misused by those who are against the Second Amendment to demonize "military style" semi-automatic rifles because of their appearance and not because of their function. They and the media have lied to the American people by reinforcing the impression that assault weapons are automatic weapons when advocating a reinstatement of the "assault weapons ban." Their goal is to ban semi-automatic rifles first and then to propose more laws to ban semi-automatic handguns because they are used in crimes more often than semi-automatic rifles. So despite the Heller decision, there is still a slippery slope towards more and more gun prohibitions.
"Conventional style" semi-automatic rifles have a countoured grip that is part of the stock. "Military style" semi-automatic rifles have a pistol grip that is separate from the stock. The pistol grip is necessary in all "AR" semi-automatic rifles because the recoil spring is in a straight tube inside the stock of the gun. Therefore the stock cannot be countoured to have a comfortable grip as in a conventionally styled rifle.
The "conventional style" rifles shown below are much more powerful than the "military style" rifles also shown below. However both styles of rifles are used in competition, hunting, recreational shooting, and in self defense.
Regarding the prohibition of "military style" semi-automatic rifles (mistakenly called "assault rifles"), the real question is…..
Would legislation restricting or prohibiting civilian ownership of any semi-automatic rifles infringe or encroach upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms?
The logical answer is yes, and many citizens would consider such legislation as being unconstitutional and tend not to respect it! Legislation to register, license, or prohibit semi-automatic rifles would be seen as a precursor to confiscations and as a precursor to prohibitions on semi-automatic handguns. The perceived unconstitutionality of such legislation could generate civil disobedience, corruption, and a black market on a scale not seen since the failure of prohibition.
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Legislation prohibiting semi-automatic rifles could also lead to increased corruption and a disrespect for other laws as is occurring in Mexico.