First, there are no “Assault” rifles!

Assault is an action not an object, and guns are nothing more than inert objects, remaining harmless without the actions of an assaulter (the shooter). Second, no citizen in the U.S. can own an automatic rifle (one that requires only one trigger pull to empty the entire magazine) without stiff rules requiring tracking and very expensive licensing, i.e., museums/gun collectors.

When hearing the term “semiautomatic rifle,” the naive picture machine guns, black M-16s, etc.. They would never picture the legal and common semiautomatic hunting rifle which can be purchased in all the same calibers as the so-called assault rifles — most of those same hunting rifles can be purchased with similar magazine capacities.

When our Forefathers wrote the Second Amendment, all available guns of the time owned by citizens and military were of equal firepower. It was not until about 1900 that the first automatic rifle (machine gun) came into existence and for military use (no, the Gatling gun was not an automatic).

Please understand the military automatic rifle is a select fire weapon, capable of automatic fire (can empty the magazine with a single pull of the trigger) as well as semiautomatic fire, requiring an additional trigger pull for each shot.

Thus, automatic rifles are distinguished from semiautomatic rifles in their ability to fire more than one shot in succession once the trigger is pulled.

Most military-grade automatic rifles are used when attacking an enemy force, thus the term has been subcategorized as weapons of war or “assault” rifles. Conversely, no military arms their soldiers with the semiautomatic rifle.

Do citizens need an “assault rifle”? The naive response is an unqualified “no!” Conversely, keep in mind our forefathers' primary objective for writing the Second Amendment was to protect us from being defenseless in the event of another tyrant government takeover. Is it not logical to believe if our own government decided to force us into a socialist society, they would use our military to force us into submission?

Finally, would we citizens not prefer to be equally armed against such an aggressor?

James O. Helms, Fort Walton Beach