A political/legal term variously defined in laws, ordinances, and speeches. It usually includes semiautomatic arms superficially resembling assault rifles, but is also often defined to include pistols and shotguns.
(n.) 1. A firearm capable of select-fire (q.v.) and firing an " intermediate cartridge", designed for military use. The first such assault weapons were used by the German Army in World War Two, and the name is a derivative of "Sturmgewehr," German for "assault rifle," a name created by Adolph Hitler. 2. A legal term as defined in the U.S. "Assault Weapons Ban," part of a bill enacted in 1994 which amended the Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Section 922 et seq. For more details read my article "Understanding the Federal Assault weapons Ban".
a firearm that satisfies a certain set of conditions specifically designed to designate a weapon as such
a firearm with certain features that make it easier to shoot lots of bullets across a wide area in a short time
a semiautomatic firearm with a detachable magazine capable of holding twenty or more rounds
a submachine gun or a rifle with a selector switch that allows it to fire either semiautomatically or automatically
Any weapon used in an assault (see WEAPON).
Although there is no precise definition of the term, an assault weapon is generally defined as a semi-automatic firearm that is similar in name, appearance, or design to a fully automatic firearm or military weapon. Note that this term is not synonymous with assault rifle, which has an established technical definition.