According to the dictionary, an “assault weapon” is any various automatic or semiautomatic firearms, especially an assault rifle. http://www.merriam-webster.com/ (last visited August 2, 2015). However, the legal definition, and its use and application, can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and state to state.
In Indiana, for example, the Legislature originally crafted an additional penalty for defendants who committed an offense “us[ing] an assault weapon.” Ind. Code § 35–50–2–11 (1994) (amended 1996, 2005). In 1996, the Legislature broadened the language to include the use of “firearm[s]” rather than only “assault weapon[s].” Ind.Code § 35–50–2–11(a) (1996) (amended 2005). Although it began using the term “assault weapon” many years ago, Indiana has since moved away from that term and toward the more general and generic label of “firearm.” See I.C. § 35-47-1-5 (defining firearm as any weapon that is capable of expelling or designed to expel or that may readily be converted to expel a projective by means of an explosion).
In at least one instance, however, Indiana law specifically forbids a person from selling, giving, or transferring ownership or possession of an “assault weapon” to any person under eighteen (18). I.C. § 35-47-2-7. It is unclear whether that term has a specific meaning as to a specific type of firearm or whether it falls within the general definition of “firearm.”
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