Letter: Stop calling semi-automatic rifles assault rifles


I understand many people use hyperbole to make their arguments sound more compelling.

That being said, we have to stop calling any semi-automatic rifle designed and sold for civilian and police use an “assault rifle.”

An assault rifle is a specific tool designed for and used by the military. Because of this, it should not be available for civilian or civil police use.

The assault rifle is distinguished from the standard battle rifle by three primary characteristics that make it easier to use in close quarters, such as urban or jungle fighting. These characteristics are:

  1. It’s comparatively short and light.
  2. It fires a less powerful, and, therefore lighter, round bullet.
  3. It has a selective fire switch which allows it to shoot in either semi-automatic or fully automatic mode, such as firing three shot bursts as a third option.

The last of these characteristics makes it a type of machine gun. This puts the assault rifle under the registration requirements of the National Firearms Act (NFA).

It should be noted that Illinois law has already prohibited the possession of all NFA weapons, specifically machine guns, by Illinois residents since 1961 (720 ILCS 5/24).

So, please stop calling a semi-automatic rifle a machine gun or assault rifle when discussing current gun laws. For the past 62 years, it has been illegal to own assault rifles in Illinois.

Patrick Donlea

Crystal Lake