A lot of banter is going on in this new push for more restrictive gun control laws and some of the words being used are down right confusing to the common man and woman on the street. As one of those people who like to use logic and reason to solve the world's problems, I prefer to work with labels that have specific, commonly accepted definitions and have limited parameters as to where and when they can be applied. In that regard to this situation let me put forth this short glossary of applicable terms. This list is ordered upon the importance of the term and not alphabetically.
Automatic Fire - After the first round has been manually loaded into the chamber, the shooter pulls or squeezes the trigger firing that first round. The firearm then "automatically" ejects the spent casing, strips another round from the magazine, loads it into the chamber, and then fires that round. This will continue until the shooter releases the trigger or the magazine runs dry (Fully-Automatic), or until a predetermined number of shots have occurred, usually three (Burst Fire).
Semi-automatic Fire - Similar to Automatic Fire except that the weapon stops after reloading the chamber with another round. There is only one shot per pull of the trigger by the shooter.
Selective Fire - A switch, lever, or some other device that is built into the weapon that allows the the shooter to choose between Automatic Fire, Semi-automatic Fire, or Safe.
Safe or Safety - a device built into most firearms that blocks the weapon from firing if the shooter chooses to engage it.
Semi-Automatic Only Firearm - A firearm that is limited by the manufacturer to only fire in a Semi-automatic Fire mode when the Safety is not engaged.
Magazine - The component of a firearm for the storage of ammunition that will be accessible to fire. Most used today are the Detachable Box Magazines that allow for quick reloads.
Main Battle Rifle - A rifle capable of Selective Fire that is longer than a meter and fires a heavy bullet (150 - 180 grains) from a full-length rifle cartridge. The best example of a Main Battle Rifle (MBR) would be the U.S. M-14. It fired the .308 Winchester/7.62 mm x 51mm NATO cartridge and used Detachable Box Magazines (commonly 20 round capacity). The Springfield Armory M-1A is a Semi-automatic Only copy of the M-14 and because it is not capable of Selective-Fire, it should not be regarded a "tool for soldiers only."
Assault Rifle - A rifle capable of Selective Fire that is a meter or shorter in length and fires a heavy bullet (120 - 150 grains) from a cartridge with a smaller casing and reduced powder charge than that used in a MBR. It also commonly has a pistol-shaped grip for handling the weapon with just one hand for the occasions that this might be necessary. The best example of an Assault Rifle is the Soviet/Russian AK-47. It fired the 7.62 mm x 39 mm ammunition from a Detachable Box Magazine (commonly 30 round capacity). The Semi-automatic Only versions sold on the civilian market are not Assault Rifles because they are not capable of Selective Fire and should not be considered "weapons of war."
Light Battle Rifle - A rifle capable of Selective Fire that is a meter or shorter in length and fires a light bullet (50 - 75 grains) from a cartridge with a small casing and reduced powder charge. Like the Assault Rifle, it commonly has a pistol-shaped grip and uses Detachable Box Magazines. Because of their light ammunition, these weapons are considered to be optimally suited for urban combat operations. The best example is the U.S. M-16/M-4 family of weapons firing the .223 Remington/5.56 mm NATO ammunition. The Semi-automatic Only versions of these, like the Colt AR-15, are neither Light Battle Rifles or Assault Rifles and should not be "relegated only to the battlefield."
Pistol - A Semi-automatic Only firearm designed to used by the shooter in a single hand. These fire low-powered cartridges that are suited only for personal protection in close quarters combat. They also have pistol-shaped grips (which should go without saying) and operate with Detachable Box Magazines. The best example would be the Beretta M-92 which is used by law enforcement agencies across the U.S. and around the world. These are not Assault Rifles as they are not even rifles.
Now the one term you have not seen me define is "Assault Weapon" and the main reason for that is because it cannot be defined. It is a meaningless, political term meant to encompass any and everything the person brandishing it intends to include. It also obscures any attempt at statistical analysis of crime data in regards to the use of these weapons. They don't want any limits on it. It's like that old saying about Art but altered to, "I may not know a thing about firearms or crime, but I know what words scare the most people and get them to react."
An assault is a physical action that only animated creatures can engage in and not, by definition alone, inanimate objects. People can use any type of weapon to commit an assault. My walking cane could be considered an "Assault Weapon" since it has features carved into it that make it more handy as a tool for self-defense. But the main reason these folks use an undefinable term is because they don't want you to think; they want you to "feeeel."
They want you to feel sorrow for the victims of these murders. They want you to feel fear that the same thing might happen to you. They want you to feel anger at these firearms and those who lawfully own them. They know that the human brain is wired to react more quickly on emotion rather than the application of rational thought.
There are two camps for those anal-retentive types that want to inflict these restrictions on the American people. The first are the immature idiots (that adjective could be considered redundant) of the Media/Entertainment industries that are probably reacting emotionally themselves (like this one and this one and this one). "Uncle Joe" would consider these people "useful." The second group is those politician/government types that participate in a fascist conspiracy to subjugate the American people to their version of a totalitarian police state (like this one and this one and this one and especially this one for this reason). These folks are the epitome of evil.
They've had nearly a century to disarm the people when they held majority power in the halls of the U.S governments, if they truly believed these laws would be beneficial to America, but they've decided to work incrementally, waiting for one tragic crime after another to sway public opinion in their favor. They have even facilitated these tragedies by passing laws that created Gun-Free Zones that leave the disarmed citizens that pass through them as a target-rich environment for a madman to make a name for himself by wreaking his carnage upon these innocent people.
The pendulum of public opinion has now swayed in their favor once again and there are those who suggest that pro-liberty and gun-rights proponents like myself should throw in the towel and concede to being disarmed in the name of protecting the children. By my study of the past I have a good idea of the future and what I see coming for America is a living Hell on Earth. So for the sake of my children and grandchildren, I will continue to write on. The stakes are just too damn high...
"All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party."
Mao Tse Tung