Dictionary Literally Redefines 'Assault Rifle' to Give Liberals Edge in Gun Debate


As the anti-gun left seeks to undermine and ultimately do away with the Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms, they have largely focused their attention on what they call “military-style assault weapons” such as the incredibly common AR-15-type semi-automatic rifle and other firearms like it.

In the wake of the Feb. 14 Parkland school shooting, CNBC delved into the confusion surrounding the term “assault weapon” — a term devised by anti-gun advocates in the 1980s that is essentially based on “military style” cosmetic features that have no bearing on how the firearm actually operates.

That term — maybe mistakenly but perhaps on purpose — is often conflated with the term “assault rifle,” which has long been understood to refer to actual military firearms that are capable of “selective fire,” or the ability to switch between semi-automatic (one round per trigger squeeze) or fully automatic (multiple rounds per single trigger squeeze) that have been severely restricted for civilian use since the National Firearms Act of 1934.

Unfortunately, that liberal conflation in two similar sounding but wildly different terms was just given a rather big boost by the folks at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, who updated their definition of “assault rifle” last week in a manner that would appear to support the liberal anti-gun argument, according to The Federalist.

The new entry for “assault rifle” reads: “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.”

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The first portion of that definition is accurate, in that it notes an “assault rifle” features the capability of switching between semi-automatic and fully automatic fire.

The second portion of that definition, not so much.

To highlight the difference in the new definition versus the old, The Federalist dug up a cached version of the prior definition from June 2016, which simply read, “any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles with large capacity magazines designed for military use.”

Though unknowledgeable and ignorant anti-gunners and their allies in the liberal media will often proclaim AR-15s and their like to be “weapons of war” that are good only for military use, those rifles actually aren’t designed for military use at all and only cosmetically resemble military weapons without sharing the same select-fire capability.

Do you understand the difference between an actual "assault rifle" and the made-up term "assault weapon"?

Furthermore, no decent military in the world would send their troops into battle equipped with a semi-auto-only rifle that is incapable of automatic fire (like the AR-15), a factual distinction which should render most of the anti-AR-15 “weapon of war for military use” argument moot, but which is readily ignored by the anti-gun acolytes in the media.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, AR-15s and similar semi-automatic-only rifles are better termed “modern sporting rifles” in that they are keeping with the long tradition of civilian firearms designed for hunting and sport shooting being modeled after military firearms.

The NSSF further debunked the incredibly popular misnomer on the left that the “AR” in AR-15 stands for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle,” which of course isn’t true. Instead, it stands for “Armalite Rifle,” the name of the first company to produce the civilian-intended firearms in the 1950s that were made to cosmetically resemble the fully-automatic-capable M-16s being developed for use by the military at that time.

They also noted that, far from the misconception that AR-15s were designed as “weapons of war” solely useful for military purposes, AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles serve a multitude of purposes when it comes to hunting various varmints and small to medium-sized game as well as a variety of target shooting sports.

The conflation of the terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” by the anti-gun crowd is a frighteningly Orwellian abuse of terminology designed to confuse American citizens and push them into supporting their gun control proposals.

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That deliberate conflation just received a huge boost from Merriam-Webster and its revised definition of “assault rifle,” which furthers the goal of drumming up support among an ignorant citizenry for a ban on what amounts to the typically black and modular “military-style” semi-automatic firearms, of which tens of millions are lawfully owned by Americans.

It is incumbent for knowledgeable citizens to push back against this conflation in terms and attempt to educate as many others as possible about the very real distinction between actual military firearms and “military-style” rifles that anti-gun leftists are seeking to exploit to further their agenda.

This re-writing of definitions to support anti-gun arguments must not be allowed to stand without being called out and denounced as it directly threatens our natural right to keep and bear arms that was recognized and protected by the Constitution.

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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