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Assault rifle is a technical term for a full auto long gun of a medium caliber, and the military has used that term for at least half a century. Assault weapon is a political/legal term invented in 1993. Both are 100% legal for the general public to purchase after jumping through the required hoops unless you are in a state with tighter restrictions. Unlike typical semi-auto handguns and long guns that utilize the FBI NICS for a "background check"; purchasing items restricted and regulated by the 1934 National Firearms Act, such as machine guns, short barrel rifles, and suppressors, requires an actual background check performed by the ATF, most commonly a $250 tax stamp, fingerprint cards, and a couple signatures of your local chief LEO (usually sheriff). The background checks take anywhere from 3 to 12 months depending on the backlog and the political leanings of the sitting Attorney General. The stamp for most items has been set at $250 since 1934 when it was intentionally prohibitively high. The further restriction is that for a machine gun, the weapon must have been registered prior to May 1986 when the Firearm Owners Protection Act was passed prohibiting the registration of new machine guns but not the transfer of old ones. The gun you use as an example, a "tommy gun" or 1921/1928 Thompson (originally sold for about $200 new) in very good condition will cost a private citizen about $45,000 due to the artificially limited supply. An M16 will land in the $15-20k range usually. The stamp, which corrected for inflation would be about a $3300 tax, has become negligible to the overall cost of the purchase of a fully automatic firearm. The general public can no longer purchase and register NEW machine guns.
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