Modern Sporting Rifles Are NOT Assault Weapons

Last updated on March 29th, 2013

Modern Sporting Rifles are NOT Assault Weapons

In the United States today Americans lawfully own an estimated 100 million rifles of all types, including 20-30 million modern sporting rifles which are commonly used and often misconstrued by the media, politicians, and gun control advocates as “assault rifles”.

Sourced from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (
Here are some facts about these rifles…

By the way, for those wondering why the pink rifle… it’s meant to illustrate how some groups of people believe that certain rifles are ‘assault weapons’ due to their ‘black’ and ‘scary’ appearance, especially if tricked out with options. I wonder if these same people would consider the same model but pink-colored rifle pictured above, to be just as ‘scary’…

AR-15 and other modern sporting rifles are no more powerful than other hunting rifles of the same caliber and in most cases are chambered in calibers less powerful than common big-game hunting cartridges like the 30-06 Springfield and the .300 Win. Mag.

AR-15 and other modern sporting rifles are NOT “assault weapons” or “assault rifles.” An assault rifle is fully automatic and more commonly referred to as a machine gun. Machine guns have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934, and obtaining a permit to own one is an arduous time intensive and expensive process.

There are many civilian variants of modern sporting rifles that resemble the famous AK-47. Just as the AR-15 is semi-auto only, these AK type modern sporting rifles are also semi-automatic. They are not fully automatic machine guns and are no more powerful than any other common rifle.

The AR in “AR-15” rifle stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950’s. “AR” does NOT stand for “assault rifle.”

Modern sporting rifles look like military rifles, such as the M-16 and AK-47 but function like any other semi-automatic civilian sporting firearms, firing only one round with each pull of the trigger.

Versions of modern sporting rifles are legal to own in all 50 states, provided the purchaser passes the mandatory FBI background check required for all retail firearm purchasers.

These rifles’ accuracy, reliability, ruggedness and versatility serve target shooters and hunters well. They are true all-weather firearms and are very fun to shoot.

These rifles are used for many different types of hunting, from varmint to big game. And they’re used for target shooting in the national matches.

AR-15-platform rifles are among the most popular firearms being sold. Lawful gun owners in the U.S. own an estimated 5-10 million of them.

Depending on the definition there are an estimated 20-30 million lawfully owned modern sporting rifles in the U.S. These include AK’s, HK’s, SKS’s, and all other types of modern sporting rifles.

Nearly half (44 percent) of modern sporting rifle owners are current or former military or law enforcement members.

99 percent of all modern sporting rifle owners owned some type of firearm prior to their first modern sporting rifle purchase.

The typical modern sporting rifle owner is 35-plus years old, married and has some college education.

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