Term coined by Violence Policy Center head Josh Sugarmann
to describe cililian semiautomatic firearms with
a military or fearsome
appearance, yet no more lethality than lesser
weapons. Derived from the term "assault rifle", which means a fully automatic, selective fire rate firearm used my military and police personnel.
menacing looks, coupled with
the public's confusion over fully-automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault
weapons --anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun-- can only
increase the chance of public support
for restrictions on these weapons."