Not a political bent, but rather a discussion from a historical and technical point of view: 'Is there really such a thing as an 'assault rifle'?world.guns.ru/assault-e.html
In short, no, actually, there isn't. 'Assault Rifle' seems to be more of a colloquial term, used by firearms designers to describe new weapons and/or attempt to land government/production contracts.
Perhaps the best technical term would be 'Automatic Carbine', or 'Machine Carbine' (a World War II era German term).
That said though, the term 'Assault Rifle' isn't going anywhere any time soon. From talk among both those who know about firearms and are in the industry from the questionable politicians who like to crow about them, the term and is 'somewhat loose' defining terms is here to stay.