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Assault Rifles

Assault Rifles- Assault rifles are generally understood to be semiautomatic carbine rifles with intermediate range or rifles meeting the criteria for assault weapons under provision of the now ended Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Read on for more about assault rifles.

What Are Assault Rifles?

Originally, the term assault weapon was situationally applied to weapons that were deemed useful for carrying out an assault by the military. These tend to be semi- or fully-automatic firearms that were short and light, but there was no legal definition.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban, passed on September 13, 1994 and grandfathered on September 13, 2004, provided further definition in Title XI by, first, naming specific semiautomatic rifles (and copies or duplicates of them) including the AK-47, Uzi, and AR-15, and providing further definition to clarify the traits that identify a rifle as an assault rifle, while excluding rifles that can only shoot .22 rimfire ammunition. These traits characterize assault rifles in two ways:

1. Semiautomatic rifles that both can accept a detachable magazine with a capacity for more than five rounds and has at least two of the following characteristics:

• folding/telescoping stock
• conspicuously protruding pistol grip
• bayonet mount
• built-in flash suppressor or threaded barrel for a flash suppressor
• grenade launcher

Also banned were “large capacity ammunition feeding devices.”

What Are Laws Regarding Assault Rifles?

Some laws that affect assault rifles affect all firearms and some are specific to assault rifles; some are Federal laws and some are state laws. For example, anyone for whom it is unlawful under Federal law to ship, transport, receive, or possess a firearm including someone under a restraining order, who has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, or is an illegal alien may not do any of these things with an assault rifle. It is illegal to possess a firearm that does not meet the registration requirements of the National Firearms Act (NFA), and this applies to assault rifles. The Gun Free School Zones Act of 1995 restricts the transportation of guns on and around school properties, and this applies to assault rifles just as well as any other firearm.

There are also specific Federal laws that may refer to assault rifles. For example, 27 C.F. R. ¶ 922(r) makes it illegal for a person to use imported parts to assemble a semiautomatic rifle identical to one prohibited from importation. Federal firearms publications are available here:

States may have specific definitions of assault rifles and laws relating to them For example, Connecticut’s definition of an assault weapon I Sec. 53-202a of Chapter 943 Offenses Against Public Peace and Safety lists a larger number of specific semiautomatic firearm models than the Federal banning legislation did and additionally specifies that elements that are in possession or under control of an individual and that are either designed or intended to be converted into an assault weapon meet the definition of assault weapons. Furthermore, in Connecticut, possession of an assault weapon is illegal and is a Class D felony, while sale or transfer of an assault weapon is prohibited and is a Class C felony, with certain exceptions for previously licensed individuals, law enforcement, members of the military, etc. Laws can vary widely so its important to know the laws of one’s state of residence as well as any state one travels to.