When is a something an assault weapon?
Whether a certain gun is an assault weapon, depends on the person you ask.
Technically, a popsicle stick could be an assault weapon if used in a
violent manner. As a
criminal defense lawyer, I have seen countless objects named or used as the assult weapon. Most
people are referring to what gun would be deemed an assault rifle. Even
then, there is debate.
One definition could be gleaned from the law passed in 1994. That's
when the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) was enacted, under President Clinton.
It defined an assault weapon as "any semiautomatic rifle with a detachable
magazine and at least two of the following five items: a folding or telescopic
stock; a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of
the weapon; a bayonet mount; a flash suppressor or threaded barrel (a
barrel that can accommodate a flash suppressor); or a grenade launcher."
As an attorney trying to analyze this legal definition, it causes more
questions than it answers.
The debate over gun control has been ongoing for years and has increased
recently, especially due to the recent school shootings. One side argues
the Constitutional "right to keep and bear arms." The other
argues utility, social concern, and safety. Of course, gun right advocates
argue the same thing, but in a different way. Alas, crime is often lower
in places where much of the population is carrying weapons.
Assault weapons have become important in President Barack Obama's gun
control proposals. He is pushing for a renewed assault weapons ban and
for a ban on high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of
ammunition. However, that would actually deem many regular pistol as illegal.
If there was such a ban, it seems extremely broad by many.
However, even if one was to use the 1994 wording, legalistic language is
not necessarily the cure all, even if you do support gun control. In fact,
the AR-15 [semiautomatic rifle] could be turned into a non-assault rifle
with a few modifications. In fact, the wording of the 1994 law made it
into Connecticut laws regarding guns, yet the AR-15 which was allegedly
used in the December Newtown school shootings was a legal weapon under
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