Friday, July 27, 2012

All Together Now Class.... A Semi-Automatic Is Not A Machine Gun!

This is a Ruger 10/22, on of the most popular semi-automatic firearms in  this country.  It is not an assault rifle (unless you're a squirrel)

Is there any topic that brings out misinformation more overtly than firearms?  Me thinks not.  After Aurora, firearms and the Second Amendment have really taken a beating in the national media.  Even usually factual Bill O'Reilly stooped to idiotic blather about people buying machine guns, semi-automatics, and other "heavy weapons" without the feds being any the wiser.

To echo one of Rush Limbaugh's favorite sayings, words mean things.  Nowhere do words become more misapplied than when it comes to guns.  I have consulted the SACSTW chief armorer, and he would like to clear up a few of the common misconceptions.

Semi-Automatic:  A semi-automatic firearm is one that can fire, extract, and reload one round with each pull of the trigger until the ammunition is exhausted.  If you pull the trigger on a semi-automatic firearm and keep it depressed, the gun only fires one round.  The trigger must be released to "reset" before another round can be fired.

Automatic:  An automatic firearm is one that will continue firing, extracting, and reloading rounds as long as the trigger is depressed, until exhausting the magazine.

Assault Rifle:  By definition, an assault rifle is a selective fire rifle with a detachable magazine, usually used as the primary weapon for modern infantry.  "Selective fire" means the rifle operator can choose between full automatic fire and semi-automatic functioning.  A semi-automatic AR-15 like the one used in Aurora is no more an assault rifle than the .22 rifle your granddad squirrel hunts with is.  Incidentally, not to confuse the anti-gunners with more facts, the "AR" in AR-15 stands for Armalite Rifle, not Assault Rifle.

Clip:  When it comes to firearms, a clip is a device that holds multiple rounds of ammunition together in order to facilitate the process of inserting them into a magazine.

Magazine:  A magazine is the device that contains ammunition and feeds it into a gun's action to be fired.  A magazine can be either a permanent fixture of the gun's structure or detachable.  A gun fires rounds of ammunition from a magazine NOT from a clip.

"Magazine" and "clip" ARE NOT synonymous (that means the same you KCMO grads), and the use of the word "clip" instead of "magazine" is the best indicator that the speaker is not knowledgeable about firearms.

Want some more definitions of firearms terms?  Check out the great glossary at