A "long rifle" is generally used to refer to the old-fashioned rifles of the 18th century or so.
In common modern
usage. Within the context of small arms, a long rifle is a firearm with a rifled barrel which is fired from the shoulder rather than held in the hands. Today, outside of collectors of antiques, we don't use smoothbore barrels for small arms except for shotguns. So instead of talking about rifled handguns and rifled long guns versus smoothbore handguns and smoothbore long guns, we just say handguns (all are rifled), shotguns (smoothbore), and rifles. But that's just a shortening and simplification of the terms.
A "long gun" is a two-handed firearm as opposed to a pistol or sidearm. In this context a semi-auto Armalite is still going to do a whole lot more than a musket.
Yes. And within the context of small arms (we're not talking about artillery here, right?), a long rifle is a rifled long gun. All small arms, fired from the shoulder (with a stock basically) that are rifled fit within the same category I was referring to. Whatever terminology you want to use, an AR-15 within the context in question fits that criteria. You get that "rifle" refers to the rifling in the barrel, and not the length of the barrel, right? Any semi automatic rifle can be used in the same fashion the AR-15 was used in this case. I only added the word "long" in front of it to ensure no one came in trying to talk about handguns or something. If that word confuses you, then by all means ignore it and pretend I used the more common term "rifle".
Semantics aside, I think it's somewhat absurd to try to chase the tail of the last massacre with poorly thought out gun control laws. James Huberty killed 23 people in a McDonalds with an UZI (semi-automatic), a shotgun, and a pistol. Did the fact that his semi-automatic weapon (oddly, somewhere between a pistol and "rifle" depending on the stock) was shorter and looked less like an M-16 have any effect? Nope. Did the absence of a 100 round drum for the UZI limit his ability to kill lots of people? Not at all.
Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. He used 2 semi automatic pistols. Neither of which had super high capacity magazines (10-15 rounds each), yet he had no problem changing out magazines and continuing his spree. Does the fact that he didn't use a weapon that looked at all like what we'd call an "assault rifle" (and certainly nothing close to a fully automatic weapon) limit his ability to kill lots of people? Nope.
This idea that somehow the type of weapon, or how it looks, or how many rounds a magazine can hold really has anything at all to do with these sorts of events is pretty clearly wrong. Yet, nearly every time a shooting like this occurs, people keep trying to argue for some new law based on those things anyway. When will we learn that this isn't really the problem?