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.
"Assault weapons' 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."
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