The online dictionary Merriam-Webster recently changed the definition of “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” to the following:
any of various automatic or semiautomatic firearms; especially : assault rifle
any of various intermediate-range, magazine-fed military rifles (such as the AK-47) that can be set for automatic or semiautomatic fire; also : a rifle that resembles a military assault rifle but is designed to allow only semiautomatic fire
Hint for Merriam-Webster: hardly no one actually owns an AK47.
Previously, an assault rifle was defined as (click here for the cached webpage):
a gun that can shoot many bullets quickly and that is designed for use by the military
An easy way to win an argument: don’t like the word? Just change the definition. Previously, assault rifles were considered weapons that were designed for use by the military (IE: Full-auto capabilities).
Now, they are any gun that resembles a full-auto.
Easy way to flip a personal political agenda.
A redditor named FlorianPicasso had a noteworthy comment to say about this change:
I don’t have assault rifles, I have assault rifles, which are legal. Assault rifles are banned from new manufacture for civilian sale since May 1986, so I only have assault rifles.
Thanks, M-W! You’ve made my job substantially funnier to describe. Try arguing that in court, as well. Fun for days!
Boy, it sure would help if we had different words to describe these different things, but M-W has spoken. Oh, well.
In reality, ‘assault weapon’ itself is a misnomer. All weapons are assault weapons, that’s kind of the entire point.
But if they make certain weapons appear scarier, it’s a step in the right direction.
In fact, we already had an “assault weapon” ban in 1994. It banned guns based on the same logic, cosmetic features instead of, you know, anything actually significant.
An article by Sean Davis titled “The Assault Weapons Ban Is A Stupid Idea Pushed by Stupid People” details this hypocrisy spectacularly:
The 1994 assault weapons law banned semi-automatic rifles only if they had any two of the following five features in addition to a detachable magazine: a collapsible stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher.
That’s it. Not one of those cosmetic features has anything whatsoever to do with how or what a gun fires. Note that under the 1994 law, the mere existence of a bayonet lug, not even the bayonet itself, somehow turned a garden-variety rifle into a bloodthirsty killing machine. Guns with fixed stocks? Very safe. But guns where a stock has more than one position? Obviously they’re murder factories.
… After the assault weapons ban [expired], guns were supposed to flood the streets and just start killing people. Crime was supposed to skyrocket. But that’s not what happened. Yes, Americans bought a ton of rifles after the law expired, but rather than going up, the number of homicides in which rifles were used drastically fell. There were way more guns, but way less crime.
Are you ready for a mind-blowing statistic? In 2014, you were six times more likely to be murdered with a knife than you were with a rifle. Knives were the weapon of choice in 1,567 murders in 2014, according to the FBI. It gets crazier. You were also nearly three times more likely to be killed by someone’s fists or feet than you were to be murdered with a rifle. In 2014, 660 people were murdered with what the FBI calls “personal weapons”–hands, fists, feet–compared to 248 with rifles.
So with this recent definition change to include ‘anything that personally scares me’, what are we to do?
I devised an easy solution, just choose one the of these guns. They are clearly not assault rifles, because they do not resemble a military-style assault rifle: