Critics Call for Banning the AR-15 Rifle
In the wake of the terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida by a radicalized Islamic murderer, the AR-15 has been vilified by the president and his hopeful successor, Hillary Clinton. This tragic event follows an increasing awareness of painful loss resulting from mass killings by individuals whose hearts and minds have broken and acted on their evil choices. Gun control has become the latest political rally cry as one side challenges the rights of millions of Americans who choose to own firearms.
Are the critics of gun owners right? Has America’s love for the AR-15 gone too far? As trillions of bytes of data are spent reposting anti-gun propaganda on social media, the embattled black rifle makes its stand in the fight for its continued existence. Gun critics make many valid points about gun violence as the country continues to mourn the loss of life to bullet wounds year after year.
The latest rally cry circulating throughout the media is a renewed call to ban “assault rifles.” The logic behind this is that if “assault rifles” are illegal to purchase, terrorists and people with evil intentions will not be able to obtain a gun that can slaughter people en masse. This logic places the blame of the horrific acts squarely on the rifle—as if this is the silver bullet for solving mass shooting and terrorist attacks in the United States.
After the December 2015 terrorist attack in California, President Obama said the government should “make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino.” The call for a ban on “assault weapons” comes from the very top. Yet very few people, including many politicians, seem to know the real definition of “assault weapon.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill in 2013 that called for a ban on “dangerous military-style assault weapons.” The bill defined the weapons as more lethal because they contain one or more of the following features: a folding or collapsable stock, a forward grip, a grenade launcher, a rocket launcher, a threaded barrel, or a barrel shroud.
To someone who fears guns and gun owners, each of these items sounds very scary and deadly. A forward grip? It is a piece of plastic you use to hold the gun with. A collapsable stock? The part of the gun that sits against the shoulder that can be adjusted in length to fit the user just like the button you use to move your car seat to a more comfortable position. A grenade or rocket launcher attachment? For one, these are not legal anyway and they are a separate device that does not shoot bullets. There has not been a mass grenade launcher or rocket launcher attack in the United States in a long time, if ever.
Calling a gun a dangerous or lethal military assault weapon is meant to make them sound more deadly. The New York Times conceded this point when they wrote that, “Critics describe them as high-power weapons — in addition to firing multiple rounds quickly, they have a higher muzzle velocity than traditional rifles. But defenders say that most AR-15s are chambered for .223 or 5.56 ammunition, low-caliber rounds that are less deadly than those used in many handguns. And they cite statistics indicating that unlike handguns or shotguns, rifles of any type account for only a fraction of homicides in the United States — of 12,664 murder victims last year, 323 were killed with rifles, according to the F.B.I.’s Uniform Crime Report.”
The AR-15 looks scary. With gun owners dressing up the rifles with paint and “military style” attachments like flashlights and optics that look like small telescopes, biased gun control critics spin these novelty items as more lethal weapons with deadly aspirations.
Hollywood Profits from American Guns
Hollywood is home to some of the biggest gun critics. With blockbuster celebrities like George Clooney and Matt Damon making very public statements about gun control, this may seem at odds when you look at the top ten highest-grossing movies in the US:
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens – This movie has plenty of blasters (guns)
- Avatar – There are rifles, machine guns and other heavy weapons used throughout the movie
- Titanic – A handgun is fired at one of the main characters
- Jurassic World – There are plenty of guns in this movie including a machine gun mounted on a helicopter
- Marvel’s The Avengers – Iron Man, Black Widow and many more all use guns
- The Dark Knight – There were very violent gun scenes in this movie
- Star Wars: Episode I – Lightsabers and blaster weapons (guns) were in many scenes in this movie
- Star Wars – Who shot first? Either way a blaster (gun) was used
- 9. Avengers: Age of Ultron – see #5
- The Dark Knight Rises – Almost every main character used a gun in this movie
Every one of these movies depicts violence with guns. If celebrity gun critics were serious about gun control, maybe it’s time for some industry self evaluation. While we mourn the actual loss of life in real life, we pay money to be entertained by the violent actions of gun wielders in movies.
When the closest many gun critics ever get to a gun is watching them on scripted TV shows and movies, it’s no wonder the ignorance about the AR-15 is so high.
What is the AR-15 Rifle?
The AR-15 is a civilian rifle-design platform that was the basis of the military M-16 rifle used in the Vietnam War. The “AR” designation comes from the company that invented the design, Fairchild Armalite. In 1959 the company sold the design rights to Colt. Colt modified the internal design to create the fully automatic M-16 rifle that was adopted by the United States military. The “AR” designation in the name does not stand for”Automatic Rifle” or “Assault Rifle.”
The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle that shoots one round per manual trigger pull. It is used in the military, police, security services, hunting, civilian sport shooting, and personal home defense. The gun is essentially a platform designed to be easily configurable to allow for different sights, grips, stocks, and calibers. The configurability of the gun means that gun owners can have one gun to perform multiple applications. The reliability and accuracy of the weapon as well as its ease of configurability have made it the most popular gun in the country. The National Sports Shooting Federation estimated that there are between 5-8 million rifles in the United States, with more being purchased every year.
Semi-automatic weapons have been in civilian hands for over 150 years. The Henry repeating rifle was used in the civil war and soldiers would often save their pay to buy their own Henry rifle because they felt safer carrying a gun that could shoot 17 rounds before reloading. In a time when most guns required manually loading each round after firing, the semi-automatic action gave them an advantage over the slower black powder guns that were commonly used. The AR-15 is essentially the modern version of the Henry rifle from 1860.
Why Should Anyone Need an “Assault Rifle”
One of the most common arguments against AR-15 ownership is not understanding the motivation for owning one. Critics argue that people don’t need a military weapon for home defense or hunting, and they are technically correct. The AR-15 can be used for hunting; however a purpose-built, high-caliber, bolt-action hunting rifle may be better for shooting deer or elk. For home defense one could reasonably argue that a 12-gauge shotgun makes for a better weapon to defend one’s family from home invaders. A handgun is more portable and easier to wield in personal-defense situations. These points correctly show that while the AR-15 is a versatile, reliable, and accurate weapon, it may not be the best for every situation that could require the use of a firearm.
AR-15s are carried by police and SWAT teams all over the country. When an active-shooter incident occurs, the first responders are armed with the AR-15. The very rifle gun critics love to hate is the very gun everyone depends on when criminals and terrorists strike. The AR-15 paired with handguns is America’s first line of defense in every city across the country. Every major government agency stockpiles AR-15 weapons, and every branch of the U.S. armed forces carries AR variants including fully automatic weapons. The government’s firepower is vast with ammunition purchases exceeding 1.6 billion rounds including highly lethal sniper rounds and internationally banned hollow-point bullets. The same administration that calls for a ban on AR-15 guns has stockpiled enough rounds in one year to wipe out a quarter of the world’s population.
The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says nothing about gun mechanics. It does not mention how many rounds a gun could fire or limit the form and function of the individual weapons. The founding fathers had no way of knowing what engineering feats enterprising Americans would develop in gun technology. What they did know was that personal liberty needed to be defended and this right “shall not be infringed.”
The Second Amendment says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” A Militia is not the Army; it is a defense unit made of citizens to protect the security of a free State. The right of the people to defend their freedom through bearing arms has been interpreted as the people’s right to defend themselves not just for personal security but security from an unjust government. The Constitution was written to protect the citizens of the new nation—not protect the government from its citizens.
As calls for government growth continue by progressives, faith in the same government continues to fall. Congressional disapproval, at 77.5%, corresponds with rising AR-15 ownership. Many will say that they own an AR rifle for home defense or sports shooting, which jostles critics of gun rights. Yet the primary reason for owning the same game that has been stockpiled by our own government is that Americans have the right to defend the “security of a free State.” If the AR-15 rifle and its multi-caliber variants are banned, then the citizens’ ability to defend their freedoms is infringed.
Just as the Henry rifle helped the Union win the Civil War against the slow-loading black-powder rifles used by the Confederate rebels, the people do not want to be outgunned by their own government.
Calls to infringe American citizens’ right to carry a defense rifle lowers the trust in our government’s sworn duty to protect the Constitution.
Mass Shootings and Gun Control Solutions
The NRA is a powerful lobbying group that protects a multi-billion-dollar gun industry. Any attempt to limit gun sales is met by swift action by the NRA to stop this type of legislation from moving forward. Their argument that gun control is a slippery slope toward invalidating the Second Amendment gives them power against diehard anti-gun activists.
Current laws on background checks, rules on magazine limits, and other state restrictions have failed to stop terrorist attacks and mass shootings by the mentally ill. The reason is clear: Those who seek to murder as many as possible will not obey the law. Studies have shown that criminals will get their hands on guns no matter what the law states. The terrorist shootings in San Bernardino and many other cases prove that individuals will circumvent the law and acquire guns with full intent to use them.
Common Sense Gun Control Solutions
Families of victims and political opportunists do have a point when it comes to certain gun control measures. If we can come to a compromise and assure the public that there is no intent to infringe on Second Amendment rights, common sense reform makes sense.
Expanded background checks that help prevent mentally ill individuals from acquiring guns and blocking individuals on terror watch lists are sensible ideas that may aid in lowering the tragic violence that has rocked the nation.
Due process to prevent innocent people from getting unfairly blocked from legally purchasing a gun needs to be a part of this conversation to keep constitutional rights from being infringed. Let’s talk about ways to get mental health care professionals to assist to lawfully assist in preventing violent mentally ill individuals from carrying out disturbed fantasies. We need to find a way to fairly screen potential terrorists from lawful citizens to make it harder for terrorists to carry out attacks with guns.
These are not perfect solutions. Terrorists with determination will kill just like they did at the Boston Marathon or World Trade Center attacks. Gun control does little to stop explosives, chemical, and cyber attacks. Radicalized individuals or groups will do all they can to circumvent the laws and find a way to kill Americans.
Guns Don’t Kill, People Do
The current gun debate divides the country once again. Politicians are pandering to their bases to win the presidency in this election year and using the Orlando atrocity to fire up voters. This madness stirs knee-jerk reactions and often forces irrational decisions that affect generations to come. Few objects have shaped our nation more than firearms made of forged metal and gunpowder. We carry guns in defiance of evil, and use them to defend our nation. The gun in itself is not evil; it is merely an object, like a knife or a bow, that when used can have a lethal effect.
A gun is nothing without hands resolved to use it.