Cries to 'Ban the AR-15' Based on Ignorance and Hysteria
Yet another mass shooting has taken place in America – followed by all too predictable cries to ban the AR-15 rifle.
The pure ignorance of the people bleating for a ban on America's most popular rifle is appalling. With few exceptions, most of the calls to ban the AR-15 come from liberal, urban women and metrosexual men whose knowledge of firearms comes entirely from watching Rambo movies or playing "Call of Duty."
Even some in professional law enforcement know not of what they speak. A local radio station interviewed a retired FBI agent who stated that he "could not understand" why people would want such a rifle.
I've shot service rifle competitions for nearly 20 years and held the classification of "Master" for nearly eleven. I've probably put 20,000 rounds through AR-15 rifles. Though I've never been in the military, I have more familiarity and proficiency with the weapon than most active-duty soldiers. So I think I am as qualified as anybody to dispel the common myths about the AR-15.
First, the AR-15 is not a machine-gun or an "assault weapon." The AR-15 is a semi-automatic version of the M-16, which is a machine gun. However, in Vietnam, the military found that troops with early versions of the M-16 were using fully-automatic "spray and pray" fire – and often failing to hit the enemy. So when the M-16 was redesigned in the early 1980s, its fully automatic rate of fire was reduced to three-shot bursts, forcing troops to actually aim rather than hip-fire. But any fully-automatic fire is simply not an option for the civilian AR-15.
Second, the idea that the AR-15 is some kind of horrifically powerful weapon is absurd. In its most common chambering, the 5.56 NATO, the AR-15 is actually underpowered compared to traditional American battle rifles like the M1873 "Trapdoor" in .45-70 or the M1903 Springfield in .30-06. The AR-15 is a .22-caliber centerfire. When its M-16 counterpart was introduced in Vietnam, it was derided as a "mouse gun" and a "poodle-shooter." Many troops were dismayed when their .30-caliber M-14s were replaced with the new rifle.
Indeed, the M-16 and AR-15 rifle suffered a poor reputation for a couple of decades after its introduction in Vietnam, in part because ammunition issued by the Army resulted in malfunctions and jams, causing the deaths of a number of troops during firefights with the Viet Cong.
Like most technologies, however, the AR-15 has evolved significantly over time. Its popularity today exists for a number of reasons. The AR platform uses space-age materials, such as forged aluminum and plastic, which make it lightweight, durable, and weather-resistant. Today's AR-15 is reliable, ergonomic, and user-friendly. It's easy to maintain, and unlike traditional wood-stocked rifles, which often require custom fitting, it allows an infinite variety of aftermarket options and configurations without expensive professional gunsmithing. To use an analogy that will be understandable to red-state males (but probably unfamiliar to urban blue-staters), the AR-15 has become the "small-block Chevy" of the shooting world. Barrel assemblies (called "uppers") can be switched out in ten seconds or less, and stocks can be easily customized to fit an individual shooter – such as a small-statured female.
Because of its inherent accuracy, the AR-15 has been a boon to target shooters, and its low recoil has enabled females to rank among the top competitors in the nation. One female competitor scored two perfect "cleans" in the most difficult position – 200-yard standing – at the National Rifle Matches. Such a feat would have been difficult to impossible with a .30-caliber bolt-action, the recoil of which can be literally teeth-rattling.
Third, those who contend that "no one goes hunting with an assault rifle" have betrayed the fact that they are probably not hunters themselves, or, if they are hunters, they're decades out of date. The modular nature of the AR-15 makes it easily adaptable for a variety of hunts in numerous calibers. Short-barreled AR-15s in .450 Bushmaster or 7.62x39 have become the number-one choice for Southern hog-hunters, while Western prairie dog-hunters can install a 26" "varmint" barrel in .204 Ruger or .223 Remington for unparalleled long-distance accuracy. And calibers such as .223, .300 Blackout, and 6.8 SPC are perfect for Texas deer or medium-sized eastern whitetails. The AR-15 platform is so ideally suited for hunting that in 2015, Remington, the oldest maker of sporting arms in the U.S., discontinued its inferior 7400/750 series of semi-automatics after sixty years in production. The only semi-autos it manufactures for the hunting market today are AR platforms. (By the way... nobody uses a 30-round magazine to hunt; most states limit capacity to four or five rounds while hunting.)
Banning the AR-15 to stop school shooters would be like banning Boeing 757s to stop terrorist attacks after 9/11. You've never heard anyone say, "Nobody needs to fly through the air at 600 mph. Look at how many people died because of those dangerous jetliners!" Would liberal journalists, who advocate repealing the Second Amendment and banning guns, agree to a repeal of the First Amendment and impose a ban on computers, digital cameras, and video cameras because child pornographers use them? I doubt it.
Banning AR-15s is not the answer to school shootings. Neither the Columbine killers nor Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho, nor University of Texas shooter Charles Whitman, used AR-15s, and all of them managed to commit terrible crimes.
It would have been entirely possible in, say, 1875 to murder 17 schoolchildren with 19th-century technology, such as a brace of Colt revolvers and a Winchester lever-action rifle – or, for that matter, with a broadsword or double-bladed axe. Why didn't it happen then? Probably a couple of reasons. As the Supreme Court ruled in 1892, back then, the U.S. was a Christian nation. It isn't any longer, and today we're dealing with the negative consequences of our 21st-century neo-paganism. And back in 1875, children were not compelled under penalty of law to attend government schools (where self-defense is legally forbidden, ensuring that they will be sitting ducks) until late adolescence.
School shootings are absolutely unacceptable. But banning modern firearms is equally unacceptable. Nor would it be effective: Norway's stringent gun control failed to stop Anders Breivik from killing 77 people; France's ban on "assault weapons" didn't stop the Bataclan shooters from killing 130; and Egypt's rifle ban didn't stop the massacre of 305 worshipers at a Sinai mosque last year. Britain's total confiscation of handguns and semi-automatic rifles failed to prevent Derrick Bird from shooting 23 people (12 fatally) with a bolt-action .22 in 2010.
In Federalist #10, James Madison warned us about the tyranny of the majority, in which a faction "united ... by some common impulse of passion ... adverse to the rights of other citizens" vies for power and control. That is exactly what we are seeing today, with emotionally charged teenagers, skillfully manipulated and amplified by the liberal media, braying for a majority of the public to acquiesce to the abridgment of the gun rights of the sane and the decent.
Sorry, I'm not buying it. And anybody who does is a fool.
What we need instead is a cool-headed and sober analysis to find out why so many people, in the prime of life, in the wealthiest and most prosperous society in history, are willing to casually murder scores of strangers – and usually kill themselves in the process.
Until we answer that question, massacres are going to continue, with or without AR-15s. So long as they do continue, the rest of us need all the self-protection – and freedom to defend ourselves – that we can get.