In the United States today Americans lawfully own an estimated 20-30 million rifles which are commonly used and often misconstrued by the media, politicians, and gun control advocates as “assault rifles.”

Here are some facts about these rifles.  Thanks to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) for some of the facts below: (note that the NSSF has labeled these rifles “Modern Sporting Rifles” (MSR).

Also note: there is an estimated 100 Million lawfully owned rifles of all types in the United States.

  • AR-15 and other MSR style rifles are no more powerful than other hunting rifles of the same caliber and in most cases are chambered in calibers less powerful than common big-game hunting cartridges like the 30-06 Springfield and .300 Win. Mag.
  • AR-15 and other MSR style rifles are NOT “assault weapons” or “assault rifles.” An assault rifle is fully automatic and more commonly referred to as a machine gun. Machine guns have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934, obtaining a permit to own one is an arduous, time intensive and expensive process.
  • There are many civilian variants of MSR’s that resemble the famous AK-47.  Just as the AR-15 is semi-auto only, these AK type MSR’s are also semi-automatic, they are not fully automatic machine guns and are no more powerful than any other common rifle.
  • The AR in “AR-15″ rifle stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s. “AR” does NOT stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.”
  • MSR style rifles look like military rifles, such as the M-16 and AK-47 but function like any other semi-automatic civilian sporting firearms, firing only one round with each pull of the trigger.
  • Versions of modern sporting rifles are legal to own in all 50 states, provided the purchaser passes the mandatory FBI background check required for all retail firearm purchasers.
  • These rifles’ accuracy, reliability, ruggedness and versatility serve target shooters and hunters well. They are true all-weather firearms and are very fun to shoot.
  • These rifles are used for many different types of hunting, from varmint to big game. And they’re used for target shooting in the national matches.
  • AR-15-platform rifles are among the most popular firearms being sold.  Lawful gun owners in the U.S. own an estimated 5-10 million of them.
  • Depending on the definition there are an estimated 20-30 million lawfully owned Modern Sporting Rifles in the U.S.  These include AK’s, HK’s, SKS’s, and all other types of modern sporting rifles.  

Who owns these rifles?  Here are some more facts, once again from the NSSF.

  • Nearly half (44 percent) of MSR owners are current or former military or law enforcement members.
  • 30 percent of all MSR owners purchased their first rifle in 2009 or 2010.
  • 99 percent of all MSR owners owned some type of firearm prior to their first MSR purchase.
  • The typical MSR owner is 35-plus years old, married and has some college education.

Now let’s take a look at some crime numbers.[...]