Let’s discuss semantics. Do we take headache medicine to cause headaches or to cure them? Are deer rifles used by deer or for hunting them? The English language doesn’t work quite the same way as German, which is why the literal translation of the term Sturmgewehr (“assault rifle”) should have a very different meaning.
By analogy with all other adjectives modifying nouns, assault rifles would be used to stop assaults. In the context of civilian use, that’s precisely their intended and most frequent role. When confronted with violence and given no avenue of escape, a modern rifle is among the best tools to have on hand, along with armor, spare magazines, a side arm and numerous friends with the same.
Given the tendency of evil to attack without warning, that kind of readiness is seldom possible. If confronted with a sudden assault, as the Charlie Hedbo employees were, most of us would only have the time to unholster a pistol. If at a workplace or near a vehicle, a counter-assault rifle might be on hand and a far better tool for the job. Twice the ammunition capacity, about four times the kinetic energy per shot and much better precision than pistols make long guns the preferred choice for defense from murderous evil.
An office worker would more likely look like this than as a soldier ready for battle. Yet even this minimal kit of a rifle with a single magazine is likely to be sufficient against the typical terrorist or criminal incursions numbering one or two miscreants. It doesn’t matter if the perpetrators want to kill women, Christians or journalists, the correct response is to shoot them in the act of committing the attack. Hence the rifles for countering assaults, same as analgesics — headache medicines — are for countering headaches. To avoid ambiguity, the term defensive rifle is preferred. But feel free to point out to the critics of preparedness that assault rifles are only offensive in the hands of government troops and psychopaths. In the hands of the general population, they are counter-assault rifles and purely defensive in nature. They are just the medicine to cure psychopathic or evil permanently — and expediently enough to save innocent lives.