Trend Watch

Assault rifle

A rifle designed for military use

After the mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando on June 12, we saw a spike in lookups for the words casualty and terrorism. Lookups for assault rifle spiked once it was confirmed that the gun used was an AR-15.

An assault rifle is defined as "any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles with large capacity magazines designed for military use." Its name comes from a literal translation of the German word Sturmgewehr in a process linguists refer to as a loan translation. The Sturmgewehr was the name of a German rifle used at the end of World War II. It combined the fully automatic firing capacity of a submachine gun with the long range of a rifle and became the model for the Russian AK-47 (the most widely used assault rifle in the world today) and the American AR-15, the civilian designation of the M-16. The usual distinction between civilian and military models is that the civilian models are semiautomatic and are not sold with fully automatic firing capacity.

The AR-15 was also the weapon used in the shootings in San Bernardino and Newtown.

Trend Watch tracks popular lookups to see what people are talking about. You can always see all Trend Watch articles here.

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