Are civilian “assault rifles” really more deadly than hunting rifles?

The answer is NO!  Civilian “assault rifles” are SEMI-AUTOMATIC rifles that use detachable magazines and LOOK LIKE military guns.  In some cases they look identical to the military guns but lack the one essential military requirement, they are not machine guns and all the military ones are.   They are common hunting or target rifles that have one or more of the following things added to them:  A pistol grip, a thumb hole, or folding stock, a flash suppressor, or a barrel shroud.  If you think about it rationally, none of the things that make common hunting rifle an “assault rifle”, also makes them more deadly.  If they weren’t deadly enough before they were added they won’t be after they are added.


Changing the stock makes it look military, but the parts that shoot remain the same.  Flash suppressors don’t silence the gun and actually make the gun a little bigger, and all a barrel shroud does is help stop you from burning your hand if you fired hundreds of shots in a very short time and the barrel headed up.  A towel and a few rubber bands would do the same thing. Now let’s look at the bullets they use.


The two most common assault rifles we hear about are the AR-15 and AK-47.  The AR uses a small bullet, the .223, and the AK also uses small 7.62×39mm bullets.  The .223 has 1,281 foot lbs of energy, the 7.62×39mm has 1,500.  By comparison the old WW2 rifles used 30-06 bullets which have 2,872 ft lbs of energy.  In many places it would be legal to hunt deer with an AR because the bullet is too small.


Both guns also usually shoot military style ammunition, although hunting ammunition can be purchased at a much higher price.  Military ammunition is much less deadly in order to comply with international regulations, and be “more humane”, it stops but does not kill people and animals much more frequently than hunting ammunition, whose sole purpose is to kill quickly.  That is why many of the people shot with “assault rifles” survive.  The North Hollywood Bank Robbery is a classic example. 


Two bank robbers in North Hollywood Calif, fired over 2,000 military style bullets, hitting and wounding 18 people, including 12 police officers, none died.  They weren’t using civilian guns, they used fully automatic military weapons.  Of course the police fired back about 600 times, but the robbers were wearing bullet resistant clothing, and even thought the police had AR-15s, they had trouble penetrating the robbers clothing.  One robber was hit 29 times and eventually bled to death from a thigh wound.  The other was shot 11 times, and eventually committed suicide.  If the police had shot them once in the chest with a hunting rifle like a 30-06, the bullet would have gone through the vest and killed them. 


Looking back at all the shootings where “assault rifles” were used we can’t say that any of them would have turned out different if the guns they used didn’t have a pistol grip, a thumb hole, or folding stock, a flash suppressor, or a barrel shroud.  None of those features made it possible for the thugs that used them to kill more people than they would have if they had left those features at home.


Putting big tires on a car does the same thing, it makes the car LOOK fast, but it’s “all show”.  Adding things that make a civilian gun look like a military one, makes it look “BAD” but in truth doesn’t make it any more deadly.



James Travil Added May 8, 2018 - 7:13pm
It's an intimation thing really. Perhaps it's time to redefine the term "assault rifle". 
Mustafa Kemal Added May 8, 2018 - 9:16pm
Rusty Smith, excellent point. Does it appear that the "assault rifle" sales tactic has backfired and given ammunition to the antigun lobby?
My son in law just told me he was thinking of getting an assault rife. I asked him; do you expect to be engaged in an assault? The point of your article became immediately clear.
Where did this name come from?
Rusty Smith Added May 9, 2018 - 12:06am
Mustafa Kemal a lot of people like civilian assault style guns just because they think they look cool, or they think they are more deadly.  They are like fantasy knives, not the practical killing machines they appear to be but cool to own.  Many ex-military are comfortable with guns that feel like the machine guns they used in the military, like the civilian AR-15 which looks and feels like the M-16 light machine gun they used in Vietnam.  
I believe the term Assault Rifle was invented back in WW2 and referred to small light guns, often machine guns, that were extremely maneuverable and usually fired pistol ammunition.  Back then standard rifles were large like the M1 Garand, and fired very powerful bullets like the 30-06.  The M1 Carbine fired 30 caliber bullets and was much smaller, today there are pistols that fire more powerful bullets.  More modern military Assault Weapons would be like the Uzi, which is a tiny 9mm machine gun that shoots small pistol bullets.
The military versions are favorites for kicking down doors and taking out the enemy in very confined spaces.  Military snipers never use them because they aren't generally powerful enough or accurate enough at long distances.
The anti gun lobby is not new but their focus on assault rifles is and prompted by recent shootings where mostly copy cat shooters were inspired to use them.  In most cases they could have killed more people with a few buckets of gasoline in the confines of a classroom.  
The assault rifle focus is weird because assault rifles only account for about 2% of the homicides, most criminals use pistols, and generally cheap ones.  Years ago the anti gun focus was on cheap pistols as a result.  I'm sure they will refocus there again, given time.  The die hards just want to ban guns, even if they aren't what causes the carnage.
Flying Junior Added May 9, 2018 - 3:56am
It comes from the GHWB assault weapon ban.  Perhaps it was a flawed definition.  For one thing, it has to do with pistol-grip semi-automatic rifles that are easy enough to shoot that gun nuts buy them for their teenage girls.
Ari Silverstein Added May 9, 2018 - 8:33am
This article should be required reading for anyone that wishes to opine about gun control legislation.  You have me convinced that the phrase “assault weapon” is highly ambiguous.  Because of this ambiguity, banning them is not practical.  That’s a big step for me in terms of my position on the gun control debate. 
That being said, I think there is legislation that can be enacted which prevents someone from walking into a store and purchasing weapons capable of killing/maiming large quantities of people in a few minutes.  Our Constitution allows us the right to vote with restrictions, the same can and should be said for the Second Amendment.  So please Rusty, you're clearly someone that knows a thing or two about guns, propose something so that the country can move forward and debate the issues that really matter. 
Rusty Smith Added May 9, 2018 - 10:18am
Ari Silverstein most people don't realize it but the most destructive firearms, military machine guns are not illegal to own in the US, just more expensive and more paperwork is required. 
Strangely I can still buy a machine gun and even a silenced gun if I want to in many parts of the US, but often not a civilian semi-automatic "assault rifle" because they have made them illegal to sell.
As you've noticed politicians and anti-gun proponents have passed illogical and often incompatible laws in their haste to prevent crime, often without even understanding what they have done.
Rifle barrels can't be shorter than 18 inches, cutting one off is a felony, because that might make it concealable.  Replacing a regular rifle stock with one that folds up is can make it a banned assault rifle, presumably because it would be concealable, yet strangely it's illegal to put a handle extension on a pistol so it has a stock like a rifle, I suppose because they think that would make it too dangerous.  Take apart rifles that have removable stock sections are legal, unless you add one that has a thumb hole or pistol grip, because that too makes it an assault rifle. 
Other laws, like requirements for transporting guns get so absurd that in many places it can be impossible for gun owners to bring a gun home from the store legally even if they havn't bought bullets yet.
Mustafa Kemal Added May 9, 2018 - 11:51pm
James, Rusty, FJ,  Ari, and Kurt, 
Thanks for the info. 
As I now understand it, it almost appears that the use of the term "assault rifle" by the proponents of gun legislation may be a perfect way to never facilitate meaningful legislation.
This reeks of controlled opposition.
BTW, i have an old Springfield 30-06 and it kicks like a mule. I cant even imagine what it must have been like to shoot that regularly. 
Rusty Smith Added May 10, 2018 - 11:03am
Mustafa Kemal perhaps we should be a little clearer, there are multiple definitions of assault rifles, the older one predates the current political fray as J. Kurt describes above.  It essentially was applied to small machine guns differentiating them from longer rifles that were often not machine guns.  Longer rifles are good at distances usually found in open field warfare, and small machine guns are generally better in close quarters like in and around buildings.
Today none of the political fray involves guns used by any countries militaries, they have co opted the word assault rifle and applied it to civilian semi automatic rifles with removable magazines and LOOK LIKE military weapons.   
I believe this is a deliberate attempt to fool the public into voting against civilian possession of those guns based on the intentionally provided misconception that they too are MILITARY guns that only the military should have.
The list of what is and is not considered a civilian assault rifle has changed over and over and over, and never has included real military guns like the M-16, it's only focused on semi automatics the military never uses.
By the way in my opinion the most deadly guns are not the light machine guns like the M-16, they are the hunting style long rifles used by our snipers, and the most popular one is a bold action Remington 700 which is IDENTICAL to the one many hunters use.  Most hunters can shoot them accurately enough at 300 yards to easily kill a person, and that's so far way that if a squad of police were standing next to the person who got shot they probably couldn't tell where the shot came from and even if they did couldn't get to the shooter's location in time to watch him drive away.
At 300 yards a 308 is far more deadly than a 223, (the bullet used in the AR-15), and only drops about 9 inches if zero'd at 200 yards, (very common).
TexasLynn Added May 10, 2018 - 10:46pm
In rural circles (within which I associate) assault weapon bans are known as scary looking gun bans.  But those who support such bans have never been the brightest or overly concerned with actual objective facts/results.
Was the term "assault rifle" actually part of any law.  I don't think it has a legal definition, but I could be wrong.
In close quarters the deadliest gun wouldn't even be a rifle.  I won't go into the details of what that is or the minor modifications that would make it even more deadly... but it is common knowledge.
James Travil Added May 10, 2018 - 11:19pm
The term "assault rifle" does not have any legal definition. However the U.S. Army defines assault rifles as "short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges."
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 11, 2018 - 2:56am
The Butcher of Ruby Ridge's preferred weapon for murdering nursing women standing in a doorway is the Remington 700. Makes even an asshole like him look good.
John Minehan Added May 12, 2018 - 8:26am
"The term "assault rifle" does not have any legal definition. However the U.S. Army defines assault rifles as 'short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.'"
The term is a transliteration of the German "Sturmgewehr," at in the StG 44 or MP 44.  The StG44 was the World's first true assault rifle. 
Riley Brown Added May 12, 2018 - 12:05pm
Texas, unfortunately there is not requirement that people who vote know anything about what they are voting on and that is why we see things like Assault Rifle bans which make no sense if you understand how little their definition has to do with the way they work or what they can be used for.
TexasLynn Added May 13, 2018 - 8:53am
RB >> Texas, unfortunately there is not requirement that people who vote know anything about what they are voting on...
Yes, also unfortunately that's the price we pay since we can't trust people in authority not to abuse "poll tests". I'm open to any ideas on how to better ensure that voters are even moderately informed in issues and candidates.
I've caught hell on WB before for advocating NOT making efforts to get more people to the polls, reasoning the quality of the vote is a detriment to the process. As a "right-wing-nut" I think an ill-informed voter is a detriment to my cause. :)
The term "assault rifle" and many others are propaganda hot buttons to be pushed to invoke a certain emotional effect. And... they are effective.
Adolf Dick McMenace Added May 13, 2018 - 9:18am
John M. is right. The SturmGewehr 44 was the world's first assault weapon in the modern sense: A relatively inexpensive and easily mass-produced, selective-fire weapon firing an intermediate-sized centerfire cartridge.
Rusty Smith Added May 13, 2018 - 11:01am
James Travil unfortunately anti gun people who wanted the public to think many gun owners had military guns, told politicians what they had were assault rifles, and the politicians believed them.  They reacted without thinking, typical, and banned them probably before realizing they weren't really military weapons.  
Initially there was a list that contained no military rifles, so none were really what the campaign said they were after but it didn't make a difference.  Eventually they realized other guns not on the list looked shockingly like those on the list, and added them too, sometimes without even letting the public know.  People who bought and registered them were not notified, people who had been given them as presents by family members often had no idea the gun they had was required to be registered AGAIN, and many now have them illegally.  Today the list is so long that few people anywhere, including our police, can tell if most guns are on the list or not.
With lots of companies selling add on parts that make lots of sporting guns look like assault rifles, politicians added an assault rifle definition that makes any gun with a detachable magazine an assault weapon, if one other bolt on thing is added to the gun.  Now the list is almost endless and includes guns like some 22 pistols, just because their detachable magazine doesn't go in the handle.
Rusty Smith Added May 13, 2018 - 11:03am
Mustafa Kemal even today your 30-06 Springfield is an outstanding hunting rifle.  There are more loads for that carterage than any other rifle bullet and you can legally hunt including bear with it.
That bullet is about twice as powerful as the 223 used in the AR-15 and can shoot right through 1/2 inch solid steel like it's butter.
rycK the JFK Democrat Added May 13, 2018 - 1:03pm
Rusty Smith
"James Travil unfortunately anti gun people who wanted the public to think many gun owners had military guns, told politicians what they had were assault rifles, and the politicians believed them."
Note that the truth is unimportant in political matters here. 
Rusty Smith Added May 13, 2018 - 6:09pm
J. Kurt Schreiber well said.  I too wish our electorate was much better informed, but it's obviously much easier and less trouble to parrot the PC rhetoric of the herd than it is to examine the facts and come to your own meaningful opinions and risk offending the rest of the herd.
Dave Volek Added May 14, 2018 - 9:28pm
Thanks Rusty for this interesting article.
I have no need for guns, but I see no problems for those who want them as a hobby.
I believe gun users should be licensed for the guns they choose to own. No license, the gun is confiscated.
The competency test for rifle would be different than a pistol. If these "assault rifles" are truly not as dangerous as hunting rifles, their owners should also prove their competency in these firearms, which will be different than a hunting rifle or pistol. In the end, we may have five to ten different categories of firearms to be licensed for.
Of course, a criminal record and a severe psychiatric condition should also prevent the acquisition of a license.
Dave Volek Added May 15, 2018 - 11:30am
It is amazing at how we get fixated on a certain kind of "lives destroyed" and ignore others. USA indeed has 40,000 vehicle deaths per year and stricter enforcement of current traffic laws could cut that in half. Yet that is politically unfeasible. And yet again, 3,000 people in a one-off terrorist attacks can justify a difficult-to-win war against two nations. It doesn't make sense to me----if saving lives is the ultimate goal.
According to this Wikipedia article, Canada has 1/7 of the per capita homicide rate as the USA. I would say a good part of the reason is that firearm purchases are more difficult in Canada, but there may be other social forces as well. If the USA wants to move in this direction, it should look at Canada as an example.
Having said that, it should be acknowledged that USA is still a pretty safe country--if one knows to stay out certain neighborhoods.
In my ideal world, someone who gets caught twice with a firearm but no license should spend some time in jail. I don't have enough knowledge about Chicago. But if what you say is true, then there is a breakdown in law-and-order in the USA. When people feel they must pack heat to cross the street safely, then it won't be long before we are in a dystopic world of some kind. There won't be much liberty when you can be shot for looking at someone the wrong way. 
Rusty Smith Added May 15, 2018 - 9:03pm
Dave Volek what kind of competency testing would you have for the different guns?  Keep in mind many senior citizens aren't very agile but they sure now if someone breaks into their house and threatens them or their families.  
My own mom can hardly walk but she could take out a burglar pretty easily with one of her guns.
Dave Volek Added May 16, 2018 - 4:31pm
I'm not that knowledgeable enough about guns to devise an adequate gun competency test. I know there is more to it than just putting in bullets and pulling triggers.
Do you have any statistics on seniors who have stopped home burglaries?
Rusty Smith Added May 16, 2018 - 7:21pm
Dave Volek no agency keeps defensive use statistics and most people in America hesitate to report incidents because they don't want to take a chance they will get in trouble for defending themselves or their property with a gun.
One close friend heard noise in his garage and moments later confronted robbers in the process of using power equipment to cut the chain on his Harley Davidson Motorcycle.  Instead of running they confronted him back but then did run when he fired a shot into the dirt just outside the back door to his garage.  He called the police and they promptly charged him with discharging a firearm in city limits.  One of the officers said to him, "what would you have done if you hit one of the robbers?"  It's stories like that that keep many gun owners from reporting their experiences to the police, and of course those stories never make it in the news.
I have stopped and held one burglar, who I spotted going from house to house trying to open side doors and windows, with a hunting rifle I had in my vehicle.  He had an empty box with a few candy bars in it and told me he was selling candy and no one was answering their doors.  He was black and the neighborhood predominantly white, he alleged racism, but had no ID or a permit for selling.  One neighbor got everyone on the block over to look him over and then we let him go.  We'd have called the police but we'd have been in more trouble than the would be burglar for pulling a gun on him.
Many years ago we had a string of home invasion robberies where robbers knocked on doors and then forced themselves inside and beat the tar out of families to get them to give them all their hidden money and valuables.  I got the knock at 9:30 at night and managed to send them off because I answered my door with a pistol and leveled it at them the second I realized what was up.  I did call the police and they didn't even want to take a report.
Also many years ago dozens of "lowriders" from another community decided to have a party in my neighborhood and my neighbors all rushed  out and blocked our street with guns.  Things quickly started getting ugly, drunk lowriders were insulting residents, pissing on lawns and throwing bottles.  I and two other residents called the police, and they refused to come out since no one had been hurt, even though one car had run into a telephone pole, (that drunk).  The police told me the low riders had a right to be in my neighborhood and the wouldn't come out unless someone got hurt.  All 3 of us suggested lowriders were likely to get shot and the police told me if anyone got shot they would be on my doorstep demanding details if that happened.  I told them that even if I saw what happened I wouldn't tell them and they just got mad at me.  They never did come out and fortunately no ones wife got hit with a bottle so no lowriders got shot.  I don't think the lowriders even realized the people in the street were just the brave ones, lots of other neighbors were hiding behind their fences and walls and if they shot someone they would have just disappeared.
Things might be more documented in places like Texas where self defence is more acceptable but where I live no one tells the police when they defend themselves with a gun, unless they have no choice.
Rusty Smith Added May 16, 2018 - 11:29pm
J. Kurt Schreiber in California you have to prove you or someone else's life was in imminent danger AND there was no avenue of escape.
That even applies in your own bedroom so shooting a burglar is never a good idea because you usually do have a way to run away and the prosecuting attorney will make sure the Jury realizes you chose to stay and shoot when you could have run.
The test case I remember involved an elderly man who got in an argument with someone in a bar, went home and was awakened by the man he argued with in his house so he shot him.  The old man claimed he had to because if he'd run away he'd have had to leave his grandson at the mercy of the intruder, and the court didn't care.  He had an opportunity to run, didn't take it, so he was guilty of using excessive force.  
The way it's applied they presume if you have a gun and the intruder has a knife that you can't shoot because all reasonable people know a gun is more deadly so they presume the intruder won't attack once they see the gun.  Pretty stupid if you ask me.  I think that's why they invented throw away guns and why police often get busted for planting them on suspects they shoot so often.
If I ever shoot someone in my house you bet they will have told me they had a gun and said they were going to kill me, and I didn't think I could escape, before I empty my gun into them as they squirm around on the floor, obviously trying to get the gun out of their pocket.  If it turns out they lied to me, oh well...  I was scared and did the best I could.
Jeff Michka Added May 29, 2018 - 7:57pm
 Ah, so ol J Kurt has slunk back back to WB, undoubtedly to lend his voice to the romantic "we'll fight 'em at the barricades" crap from some of the commenters here, including TraitoristLynn who wants his "own country" and peddles his treason looking for other suckers.  Now ol J Kurt's last outing on WB had him peddling fake news about mall gunmen that had no basis in any reality, save more romantic "If I'd been there, I would have saved them all" crap, which, best case, is all these.  Well, all you had, J Kurt, was "Trumpian Truth," you know...lies.  Better luck this outing. 
Jeff Michka Added May 31, 2018 - 9:56pm
Well, ol J Kurt and his rightist buddies all cry about "the uninformed," but ol J Kurt hasn't mentioned he relie on Facebook for his news and information, correct, true or inaccurate doesn't matter.  Say J Kurt, tell the rightists how the shooter in the Skagit mall was a ISIS inspired terrorist, and here was another case of "the Other" shooting down good Americans.  Problem is that nothing J Kurt repeated blindly was true, any more than how he would have waded in and shot the guy down had he been there. J Kurt claims to hear herd noises, confused with the sound of his empty hand pointless motioning up and down in his lap.  No, lie and try and push your failings off on others, J Kurt , you slink, no other way to move for a shameless rightist like you.