Whenever there is a mass shooting, the media, the gun control lobby, and liberals in general howl about our nation's "lax gun laws." In doing so, they usually reveal themselves to be ignorant of basic gun terms. For example, they might whine about the fact that semi-automatic handguns are freely available, without realizing that most handguns today are semi-automatic, or they might claim that AK-47s are legally available for purchase in America, failing to note that the version available is not the one that most people think of when they hear "AK-47."
So, I've created a helpful little primer for liberals and reporters (or do I repeat myself) who don't know anything about guns except that they are used by creepy tea bagging racist rednecks in flyover country.
Automatic firearm: A gun that fires and reloads automatically as long as the trigger is held down. Purchasing or transferring one in the United States is a highly regulated, difficult, and long process.
Semi-automatic firearm: A gun in that reloads automatically, but requires the trigger to be pulled to fire one bullet. Semi-automatic handguns and rifles are extremely common today. Most handguns are semi-automatic, although non-semi-automatic bolt-action rifles are still popular amongst snipers and hunters.
Assault rifle: A rifle with switch allowing it to fire either automatically, semi-automatically, or in bursts (2 or 3 bullets per one pull of the trigger).
Assault weapon: A word used by politicians to refer to "scary" looking semi-automatic weapons with "scary" looking features including bayonet mounts, pistol grips, large magazines, and barrel shrouds (which are not, as Carolyn McCarthy claimed, "a shoulder thing that goes up").
AK-47: A Soviet-designed assault rifle used for over sixty years by dozens of militaries, police forces, paramilitaries, and terrorists. AK-47s capable of automatic fire are very difficult to purchase in the US. Buying one or any other fully automatic weapon requires a tax stamp and much paperwork. Semi-automatic versions, which have less power than the typical hunting rifle, are as legal as any other semi-automatic rifle.