The legal battle over ‘assault weapons’ continues. What are they?

The legal battle over 'assault weapons' continues. What are they?

A federal judge has ruled that California’s 32-year-old assault weapons ban is unconstitutional — and that the state cannot limit civilian access to weapons he considered to be "fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles." Judge Roger Benitez wrote that the weapons under California’s ban were not "extraordinary weapons lying at the outer limits of Second Amendment protection," writing that "(t)he banned ‘assault weapons’ are not bazookas, howitzers, or machineguns." "Those arms are dangerous and solely useful for military purposes," he continued. "Instead, the firearms deemed ‘assault weapons’ are fairly ordinary, popular, modern rifles." The ruling comes as the US contends with an uptick in deaths from gun violence and repeated weekend spates of mass shootings — and as President Joe Biden is urging a deeply divided Congress to consider, again, legislation to help avert the violence . Most of the legislative solutions under negotiation in Washington today focus on background checks. The federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004 — but, along with California, several states have passed assault weapon bans, albeit with varying lists and definitions of which and what types of firearms qualify as assault weapons. The term does not have a technical definition and is used by some to refer to all types of guns — including rifles, shotguns and pistols. There is no specific caliber size, speed at which the weapon fires or other technical measure used to classify a gun as an assault weapon. The gun-control advocacy group Giffords defines assault weapons generally as firearms […]

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