The National Shooting Sports Foundation offers the following excellent list of Modern Sporting Rifle Facts. No, they’re not “assault rifles”. They’re Modern Sporting Rifles.
The modern sporting rifle, based on the AR-15 platform, is widely misunderstood. Why? Confusion exists because while these rifles may cosmetically look like military rifles, they do not function the same way. Also, groups wanting to ban these rifles have for years purposely or through ignorance spread misinformation about them to aid their cause.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation asks you to be an informed gun owner and to use the following facts to correct misconceptions about these rifles. Remember, that if AR-15-style modern sporting rifles are banned, your favorite traditional-looking hunting or target shooting semi-automatic firearm could be banned, too.
• AR-15-platform rifles are among the most popular firearms being sold. They are today’s modern sporting rifle.
• The AR in “AR-15″ rifle stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s. “AR” does NOT stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.”
• AR-15-style rifles are NOT “assault weapons” or “assault rifles.” An assault rifle is fully automatic — a machine gun. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934.
• If someone calls an AR-15-style rifle an “assault weapon,” he or she either supports banning these firearms or does not understand their function and sporting use, or both. Please correct them. “Assault weapon” is a political term created by California anti-gun legislators to ban some semi-automatic rifles there in the 1980s.
• AR-15-style rifles look like military rifles, such as the M-16, but function like other semi-automatic civilian sporting firearms, firing only one round with each pull of the trigger.