Okay, it’s actually quite important to identify the differences between an assault rifle and the semi-automatic rifles that resemble them.
The term “assault rifle” originated in the German term “Sturmgewehr,” which means “assault rifle.” The German gun, a compact, selective-fire rifle chambered for a shortened version of the standard Wehrmacht cartridge, was developed in World War II and fielded to great effect. It was the direct ancestor of the M16, AK-47, and virtually every modern rifle in use by military forces today. In fact, the Army’s specification for a standard infantry rifle is the exact description of the Sturmgewehr.
The production Colt AR-15 Sporter is not, and never has been, an assault rifle. Neither are any of the copies or clones of the Stoner design designated for civilian sale.
The M1 carbines produced today aren’t the same as the M2 carbine, either. The M2 carbine was a selective-fire version of the standard Army M1 and it took only few pieces that would fit either of them to change one to the other or back again (there was a little woodworking to be done to allow for the selector switch).
When Justice Scalia wrote his opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, he referred specifically to the M16. The M16 is an assault rifle, but it is not banned. If you’ve got about $22,000 or more and can get the special tax stamp, there’s one you can buy today.
What some people fail to realize is that to a growing number of hunters the AR-style rifle is their deer rifle. In fact, these days it’s hard to find a semi-automatic hunting rifle in a deer-legal caliber that isn’t an AR or a variation on the M14.
The AR is becoming the rifle of choice for feral hogs. Farmer, ranchers, and hunters find the AR’s ability to fire multiple calibers simply by changing the upper and the standard 20- and 30-round magazines to be a perfect match for a pest that is a major problem, especially in the South and Southwest.
And that’s a problem for you ban fans: you really are coming after our deer rifles. Since you don’t have any understanding of the advantages of the Stoner design, you don’t understand why people who do understand them like the AR.
This means you have a problem. Nobody is in any hurry at all to just give them up. Heck, owners in New York state wouldn’t even register them when the state passed a law requiring it. Even some cops wouldn’t register them. The results in Connecticut were similar.
Incidentally, Antonin Scalia was a hunter. I am pretty sure he knew the difference between an AR-15 and an M16.
The reason for his comment about the M16 in the Heller opinion was in reference to Justice James McReynolds’ 1939 opinion in U.S. v. Miller. McReynolds said that since a sawed-off shotgun is not a firearm commonly used by the militia, the Second Amendment didn’t protect its ownership. That was the only type of firearm that McReynolds mentioned.
Scalia noted that a strict interpretation of the opinion would be that firearms commonly used by the militia (speaking only of the National Guard) would require that the firearms in common use today would be immune from government restrictions. In other words, the selective-fire M16, complete with bayonet lug, could no longer be regulated by the National Firearms Act, nor could any other firearm that was like an M16. That’s what Scalia wanted to avoid.