The Merriam-Webster online dictionary reportedly updated its definition of “assault rifle” shortly after the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
On June 13, the definition of “assault rifle” read as follows:
noun: any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles with large capacity magazines designed for military use
However, on March 31, weeks after the Parkland shooting, the entry was updated with a new definition:
noun: any of various intermediate-range, magazine-fed military rifles (such as the AK-47) that can be set for automatic or semiautomatic fire; also : a rifle that resembles a military assault rifle but is designed to allow only semiautomatic fire
Though many gun control advocates argue so-called “assault weapons,” such as the AR-15 rifle, are “weapons of war,” the rifles have actually never been used in combat because they do not allow fully automatic fire.
A true “assault rifle” would be something like the military-used M14 rifle, which can switch from semi-automatic and fully automatic fire. But fully automatic weapons are already heavily regulated and essentially banned in the United States.
What the update doesn’t include is an explanation for the change. The Federalist was one of the first websites to notice the update:
“Assault weapon” and “assault rifles” are malleable terms often used in public discourse to scare people. After all, all guns are designed to “assault” something. The usual proper use of this term is to describe fully automatic machine-gun-style weapons, which in the United States have been banned from civilian use for years. Notice that the Merriam-Webster change stretches this definition to include anything that looks like such a gun regardless of whether it shoots like one.
The Merriam-Webster update seems to confirm that gun control supporters think the appearance of firearms plays a role in whether or not it should be classified as an “assault weapon.”
The video below further proves that some anti-gun advocates don’t even really know how to identify an actual “assault weapon.”
If you want to ban something, you should probably do some research first.