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Any firearm is capable of massive damage - some more than others. The way things are being defined any firearm with a detachable magazine capable of semi automatic fire would be considered an assault weapon and the firearms that aren't capable, such as bolt action rifles, would not be considered assault weapons. From that one could label most firearms as assault weapons. Cam you're right that there is some disambiguation between the term assault rifle and assault weapon, but when you read those two terms is there really any disambiguation between the two? I'd argue that most people who are anti-gun will see the same and give an equally negative connotation to both.
I'm not a linguist by any stretch of the imagination but I see a lot of the issues in these debates coming from people using incorrect labels and language in their arguments. Use of terms like assault and weapon seems to be more about instilling fear and mistrust to make "the other side" look somehow inherently morally wrong or bad.
I brought the point up because it's important to get these things right, or to at least try and not have the nuances of one's POV anger the people you're trying to communicate with. It's great when the people who hold the same POV as you sit around and cheer and rah-rah you're awesome - I think the kids these days call that the echo chamber - but if you actually want to engage people with the idea of changing opinion or at least planting the seed of a new idea then does it make any sense to position your argument in a manner that pushes the people you're trying to reach further away?
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