What Is an Assault Weapon?

Learn About the Definition and Consequences of Using an Assault Weapon

The year 2021 has already seen a tragic series of mass shootings. The Congressional Research Service considers mass shootings to be defined by instances of more than four victims having been killed, excluding the victims who survive. According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of the month of March, 104 mass shootings have already occurred in 29 states plus Washington, D.C. At this time last year, only 66 mass shootings had taken place.

These grave statistics leave individuals searching for solutions to the problem and questioning their own opinions on assault weapons. Before you can form an opinion on assault weapons and their use in society, it is important to fully understand what assault weapons are. The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch has experience dealing with weapon-related cases and can walk you through the specifics of this type of weapon.

The term assault weapon refers primarily to semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and shotguns that are able to accept detachable magazines and possess one or more other features. Furthermore, some jurisdictions define revolving cylinder shotguns as assault weapons. From the year 1994-2004, there was an Act called The Federal Assault Weapons Ban. When the ban was in place, it prohibited the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms called assault weapons and certain ammunition magazine.

Even though the ban is no longer in place, and attempts to pass a new ban have failed, looking to how the weapons that were prohibited is a helpful indicator of the true definition of an assault weapon. During the time of this ban, the United States Department of Justice stated, “In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use.” Specifically, legislators have used the following qualities to separate assault weapons from other weapons when discussing laws and potential mandates:

  • The capability to accept a detachable magazine
  • Pistol grip that protrudes beneath the action of the weapon
  • Folding or telescoping collapsible stock, reducing the length of the firearm
  • Bayonet lug enabling the mounting of a bayonet
  • Pistol grip that protrudes below the action of the weapon
  • Threaded barrel to accept muzzle devices like a flash hider, suppressor, compensator, or muzzle brake
  • Barrel shroud
  • Grenade launcher

What Does Assault with a Deadly Weapon Mean?

In California, if you possessed the assault weapon before it was defined as an assault weapon and registered the firearm with the California Department of Justice within the timeframes established by the state law, you are allowed to possess it. The legal trouble comes in when you do not meet these guidelines or when you carry out a physical attack with the weapon.

“Assault with a deadly weapon” occurs when an attacker accompanies a physical attack with a physical object that can inflict serious bodily injury or death through its design. No matter whether the object was technically an assault weapon or not, assault with a deadly weapon is considered a felony in all states and can be charged as such because of the major risks of using a weapon in this way.

For legal support with a weapons-related case, or to inquire about other criminal defense services, call The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.

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