Etymology of “assault rifle”

An interesting meme in the gun debates in the United States is that “assault rifle” is a made-up term created recently by the left for political purposes (e.g., Twitter). Having encountered the term often enough in other contexts, I was surprised by this assertion. According to Google Ngram Viewer, which can search many older texts, the term was used as early as 1927 in “Infantry Journal”. It was used in many similar publications. The U.S. Army refers to the M16A2 and the M4 as “assault rifles” ([1] [2] [3] [4]). I am surprised this meme continues to exist when it is so easily discredited.

That the term has been used for a long time gets mixed up with the fact that it is deliberately misused to create more confusion on this topic. By a pretty reasonable definition, no AR-15 clone is an assault rifle, as it has no fully automatic mode. Simple gun homicides and mass murders are executed effectively with semi-automatic guns. No assault rifle is necessary.