There are multiple definitions for "assault rifle" depending on the context.
In the context of military weapons, history the assault rifle is any descendant of the original German WWII rifle, the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44),
literally the "Storm Rifle".
Year Built: 1944-1945
Calibre: 7.92x33 mm
Load: 30 rounds / Magazine fed
Action: Semi / Fully-Automatic, Gas operated, Air Cooled
Rate of Fire: 500-600rpm
Weight: 5.2 kg
Still considered to be the first Assault Rifle it was a very effective weapon issued later in the war. Fortunately for the Allies, Hitler considered
it to be "ugly" and blocked it from being manufactured in larger numbers as it was yet another German weapon which could have affected the outcome of
the War had it been issued in larger numbers.
(Approximately 425,977 were built).
The characteristics which made it a superior weapon at that time were:
Easily changeable magazine which could hold 30 very lethal rounds, full auto capability with gas operated cycle and air cooling, pistol grip and light
weight (compared to other weapons w/ similar capabilities).
Weapons with those same qualities / capabilities are considered to be "assault rifles" in this context which means the AR-15 has many of them but
lacks full auto capability.
In the context of language, an assault rifle is defined as:
An assault rifle is a selective fire (selective between automatic, semi-automatic, and burst fire) rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a
So, once again because it lacks full auto and burst fire capability an AR-15 would not be an assault rifle in this context.
None of this matters, however because what does count is the context of mass media and the ATF (who get around this issue by calling them
"semi-automatic assault weapons").
Assault Rifles according to CNN and the ATF, Obama, Feinstein, etc:
edit on 6-2-2013 by ecoparity because: (no reason given)