Yes, the M&P 15 and the AK-47 are “military-style weapons.” But the key word is “style” — they are similar to military guns in their aesthetics, not in the way they actually operate. The guns covered by the federal assault-weapons ban (which was enacted in 1994 and expired ten year later) were not the fully automatic machine guns used by the military but semi-automatic versions of those guns.
The civilian version of the AK-47 uses essentially the same sorts of bullets as deer-hunting rifles, fires at the same rapidity (one bullet per pull of the trigger), and does the same damage. The M&P 15 is similar, though it fires a much smaller bullet — .223 inches in diameter, as opposed to the .30-inch rounds used by the AK-47.
The Aurora killer’s large-capacity ammunition magazines are also misunderstood. The common perception that so-called “assault weapons” can hold larger magazines than hunting rifles is simply wrong. Any gun that can hold a magazine can hold one of any size. That is true for handguns as well as rifles. A magazine, which is basically a metal box with a spring, is also trivially easy to make and virtually impossible to stop criminals from obtaining.
Personally I think this is all beside the point. If your average police department can have fully-automatic M16s, flash bang grenades, paramilitary style tanks with 360 degree rotating turrets, then why can’t I? Especially if we’re talking about civilian usage. Wouldn’t it make sense to ban these types of “military-style weapons” from being used by the agents of the state who patrol our streets? Why do these individuals, who are after all just as human as the rest of us, get to keep their arms while the citizenry are disarmed?
“Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.” — Thomas Jefferson