Godwin’s law, for the unfamiliar, states that the longer an argument on the internet continues, the probability of someone referencing Hitler approaches 1. I’ve seen Godwin’s law applied, both as a joke and in real usage, billions of times. And I find this particular accidentally historically correct example to be hilarious.
Amongst some of the forums I frequent there are plenty of firearms enthusiasts who get really angry when you use the term ‘gun nuts’. But they also frequently seem to enjoy picking apart the term ‘assault rifle’. The US legal definition thereof is weak, at best, but of course it’s a popular term for assorted pro-gun-control politicians to toss around in the media. Some of the enthusiasts go so far as to say that there’s no such thing as an assault rifle. But let’s take a quick trip back in time to prove that last point incorrect.
Towards the latter stages of WW2 the Germans were working on a few new prototypes for weapons. They had reasonably reliable rifles, and some compact machine pistols, but both were mass-produced and rushed off to combat. Neither could really stand up to the American Thompson submachine gun, or the legendary Garand M1 rifle. They needed something newer, heavier, deadlier.
In July of 1944, Adolph Hitler took an interest in some of the prototypes. His generals were all in a tizzy over how incredible this one new model was and were eager to get his support at producing it ASAP. They let him test fire one model, designated at the time the MP44. He was amazed, and immediately dubbed it the Sturmgeweher… Storm Rifle. And that’s storm in the sense of ‘storm the castle’. Or as we might say, assault. The name stuck both for aesthetic reasons and, supposedly, propaganda reasons (Sturmgewehr, Blitzkreig… Germans were all about weather names), and it became known as the StG 44. People who play WW2 first person shooter games also know it to be the best damn gun you can loot from a German soldier, omfg.
But anyway, there we have it. There is indeed such a thing as an assault rifle. And you know who invented the term? THAT’S RIGHT.