Count me among those who know little or nothing about firearms, much less the proper names of their parts.
But I am an English major. And that minor expertise with the language leads me to respectfully submit the following.
If I hear the phrase “assault weapon” during a gun debate, I know the debater knows nothing about firearms.
If a rifle can be used to murder scores of schoolchildren and concert-goers in a very short period of time, that rifle can and should be accurately described -- in plain English -- as an "assault weapon."
Steve Parrott, Madison