There seems to be a lot of fear and confusion surrounding assault-style rifles and most of it is due to a general misunderstanding of what these rifles actually are.

Without getting into the actual “nuts and bolts” (i.e. mechanical bolt vs piston bolt etc.) of each rifle, the simple truth is that an an military-style assault rifles or assault-style rifles operate pretty much the same as any other semi-automatic rifle (only one round can be fired with each trigger pull) but it has the appearance of a military rifle.

Most are lightweight, have pistol grips, are shorter and more compact than traditional rifles. Some have the ability to be customized, some have collapsable stocks and some come in camouflage. Most shoot a lower caliber cartridge for velocity and accuracy and are pretty darn reliable. The bottom line is that these “Modern Sporting Rifles” flat out look nasty and scare people that have little or no gun knowledge.

But what is their purpose? Sure, in a home-defense situation, I can’t imagine a would-be perpetrator not being intimidated at the first sign of one and that’s not a bad thing. What about hunting? Well, they seem to be gaining a lot of popularity because of their advanced technology, ergonomic design, compactness and light weight. Who wouldn’t want that, especially if you hunt in rugged terrain. They’ve also become increasingly popular among competitive shooters because of their accuracy and light recoil.

I’ve been around guns all my life and have many. I gotta admit though that when the gun stores started displaying more and more of these tactical-looking rifles, I got a bit uneasy at their appearance and wondered just who might want one — and for what? Sadly though, we live in an age where our ego often overrides out common sense. I mean, we gotta look cool right? The truth is that no matter what you choose to put in your closet, you are responsible for it.

Personally, I like my old Marlin lever-action 30/30. I also like John Wayne. And I guess I’ll always choose a more traditional type of rifle because I have that choice. For me or anyone to say that owning a “tactical looking” rifle is wrong or somehow makes you more “dangerous” is an ignorant statement that fuels fear across the country (and world for that matter). Sure, these rifles look scary to some but in the hands of a “really scary person,” so does a baseball bat.

I had the chance to shoot a SIG Sauer M400 (similar to the gun used in the Orlando shooting) and I gotta tell you that it was a flat out blast to shoot. It was smooth, quiet and very accurate. Am I going to go out and buy one? Probably not. But I have a bit more respect for those who choose to buy them and a greater knowledge of how they operate and their limitations.

Is there a place for them? I believe so as long as the word “semi” stays in front of automatic. In no way are these rifles true assault rifles yet there’s always the folks who don’t know the difference and will keep blaming the gun for the actions of mad men.

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