The very heterogeneous group of so-called “assault weapons” has only two things in common. First of all, none of them are automatics or machine guns. Gun prohibition advocates have very effectively created and then exploited public confusion on this point. Second, none of the guns are “assault rifles,” as that term has been defined by experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency. An actual assault rifle is capable of selective fire, meaning that it can fire automatically or semi-automatically with the flip of a selector switch; examples include the U.S. Army M-16, the Soviet AK-47, and the German Sturmgewehr.
In short, “Assault weapon” is just an epithet to stigmatize the largest possible number of guns and gun owners—the breadth of the definition of the moment depending on the politics of the moment.
Lefties manipulate language because if they told the truth, their policies wouldn’t sell.