Maybe no weapon has been as vilified as the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle. Gun lovers call it a “sporting rifle.” Anti-gunners call it an “assault” rifle. There can be a case made for both descriptions. It is a popular target and sporting rifle because it is highly accurate at long distances and there is little kick when you pull the trigger.
The Washington Post provides a brief history of the AR-15 and its roots, the military (but VERY different) M-16 kin.