In the State of California, a semiautomatic rifle is considered to be an assault weapon if it occupies a detachable ammunition magazine or one of various other features, including a pistol grip, flash suppressor or grenade launcher (Feinstein, 2013). While staunch supporters of the 2nd Amendment often uphold that assault rifles have accounted for a very small percentage of firearm-related violent crimes, the author of this paper argues that semiautomatic rifles have become the weapon of choice in mass assault crimes (mainly in the United States) and therefore backs the ban on civilian ownership of these particular types of firearms.
The Bushmaster Style AR-15 is among the most popular semiautomatic weapons in the United States and is labeled the civilian semiautomatic version of the military’s M-16 assault rifle. This weapon fires one round per trigger pull before reloading itself; so, while it cannot unleash a flurry of bullets like the M-16, it can fire as quickly as the gunman can pull the trigger, resulting in rapid fire. According to Richman (2013), in 2012, 4 of 10 shootings that made headlines across the United States involved AR-15-type rifles or semiautomatic weapons that could be affected by a proposed federal assault weapons ban. Those 4 shootings alone claimed the lives of 43 people and wounded 62 others. In comparison, the other 6 shootings combined claimed 17 lives and wounded 14.
Not including the most recent shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, where the assailant used the popular AR-15 to take a total of 27 lives, of which 18 were children, 5 of the 11 deadliest shootings in U.S. history have occurred very recently, since 2007 (Klein, 2012).
While the loss of any life due to violence is a tragedy, the power of mass destruction inherent in semiautomatic assault weapons means they have no place in the hands of civilians. The need or want for a firearm in the home for protection is understood – and practiced – by many, but it is not as...