Answer Key!

Posted by Kromey at 2:29pm Feb 7 '13
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Here are the answers you've all been waiting for!

1) Define "assault weapon".
"Assault weapon" is a political term that has no meaning outside of legislation politicians sign into law. Many states currently have a definition as part of a ban that mirrors the now-expired federal one, including Connecticut -- which is how we know that such a ban wouldn't have prevented Sandy Hook, because the rifle was fully legal under Connecticut's "assault weapon" ban.

2) Define "machine gun".
A machine gun is a firearm that is capable of firing more than one bullet with a single pull of the trigger. This is normally used to describe fully automatic weapons (pull trigger, weapon shoots until empty or trigger is released) or "burst-fire" weapons (weapon fires a certain number of rounds so long as the trigger remains depressed), however it applies equally to weapons such as the new double-barreled pistols and rifles now available overseas that fire from both barrels simultaneously when you pull the trigger (although they are otherwise semi-automatic).

3) Which is an assault rifle?
Trick question!
"Assault rifle" is a military term that describes weapons with select-fire capability (a switch allows them to function as either semi-automatics or full-automatics) and that uses an intermediate cartridge (i.e. one less powerful than what one would typically find in a rifle). This trick question was deliberately inserted to highlight the purpose behind the propaganda term "assault weapon", a term deliberately chosen to be confused by the public with the military term "assault rifle".
None of the weapons pictured is an assault rifle.

4) Which is a machine gun?
Only A.

5) Under current US federal law, which is prohibited to civilians?
Only E. Sort of.

6) Which would have been banned under the now-expired US federal "assault weapons ban"?
None of the above.

7) For each feature listed below, which have it?
i) Folding or telescoping stock

B and C
ii) Pistol grip
B, C, and D
iii) Bayonet mount
Only A
iv) Flash suppressor
Only B
v) Grenade launcher
None of the above.

Extra Credit:
Identify each item pictured.

A Springfield M14 select-fire battle rifle ("battle rifle" differs from "assault rifle" only in that it uses a full-power cartridge). This was the mainstay of the US infantry during WWII, and is still in use by the US military today, albeit in a more limited role.

A "California-legal" custom-built AR-15 rifle. California has today perhaps the most restrictive so-called "assault weapons" ban in the US, although like all such laws it is based almost exclusively on "evil" features that are entirely cosmetic. This particular rifle is semi-automatic only (as all civilian AR-15s are), and instead of a standard magazine release it features a "bullet button", which means that it requires tools (and a good minute or two) to remove the firearm's 10-round magazine; this is why it is not subject to California's ban on similar scary-looking black rifles, because technically it does not feature a detachable magazine (it's easier -- and faster -- to field-strip the rifle than to remove its magazine).
This one was sort of another trick question, because the image is too small (even before I scaled it down to post here) to identify the "bullet button", although if you look closely you can see that the selector switch has only 2 positions ("safe" and "fire"; an M16 or variant thereof (including the M4) has 3: "safe", "semi-auto", and "full-auto"). The purpose of this trick was to highlight how silly it is to ban firearms simply based on looks, without paying attention to function.

Mossberg 590A1 Tactical Tri-Rail. A pump-action 12 gauge shotgun chambered for 3" shells. Would not have been considered an "assault rifle" under the expired federal law nor any state law I'm aware of because it is not semi-automatic -- you have to pump it yourself to eject the fired shell and load a new one.

Glock 22. A full-frame .40 S&W semi-automatic pistol. (This is likely the handgun I'd have if I had a Glock.)

A Slick 2 Switchblade Out The Front knife. The manufacture, importation, and sale of switchblades is prohibited by US law where such "substantially affects interstate commerce"; additionally the possession of switchblades on federal property is prohibited. Individual states also have various laws about them. Not to be confused with "spring assist" knives, the key difference being that the [private] is not under spring tension until the knife is already partly open.

But wait a second! You said A was a machine gun! Aren't those illegal?
Machine gun ownership has been very stiffly regulated since the National Firearm Act of 1938, although technically it was still perfectly legal -- you just had to buy a $200 tax stamp, register it with the feds, and obtain the written permission of your local sheriff/chief of police.
The National Firearm Act of 1983, however, changed that, and made all newly-manufactured machine guns wholly illegal to sell to civilians (with limited exceptions for manufacturers, distributors, and dealers with the proper licenses -- and still not to sell to private individuals). However, since the M14 largely ceased production in the 1960s (when the military replaced it with the M16), most M14s are legal for civilians to own, provided they buy their tax stamp and jump through all the hoops.

added on 3:18pm Feb 7 '13:
Oops! In my description of "C" I committed the same slip that the anti-gunners who invented the term "assault weapon" wanted us all to make!

Mossberg 590A1 Tactical Tri-Rail. A pump-action 12 gauge shotgun chambered for 3" shells. Would not have been considered an "assault rifle weapon" under the expired federal law nor any state law I'm aware of because it is not semi-automatic -- you have to pump it yourself to eject the fired shell and load a new one.
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