Why should anyone need or want an AR-15?

While Democrat legislators splatter us with saliva that they fraudulently pass off as tears in their quest for gun- and Bible-clinger control during moments of silence for the victims, liberals are lighting up the internet and Facebook with indignant rhetorical questions intended to shame us into retreat, like "Why should anyone need or want an AR-15" (variously described to liberals and other impressionable children as a "military-style assault rifle")?

No actual, thoughtful answer is desired, of course.  But I'll give a few.

A semiautomatic carbine is a legitimate and appropriate weapon for a law-abiding citizen to own for personal or home defense.  The suitability to task increases in proportion with the size of one's home, lot, farm, or ranch, as a handgun is neither precise nor powerful enough to guarantee stopping a lethal threat the farther away that threat is – and we don't apologize for wanting to keep the threat as far away as possible.  With a carbine, a person defending himself or his family has two to five times greater chance of placing rounds on target at moderate distance.  How important is that?  It can make the difference between life and death.  Consider that the hit ratio for cops – trained professionals – with handguns in real-life officer-involved shootings, at short distances, hovers around 15 percent.  It's incredibly difficult to hit the bad guy when you're scared to death.  Unlike The Hunger Games, we really do intend to tilt the odds in our favor.

Compared to shotguns, whether of the tactical or duck-hunting variety, which can pack a wallop of three times the kinetic energy on the target and commensurate rotator cuff-tearing recoil to the shooter, carbines are small, light, and maneuverable.  (Yes, they are loud.)

In fact, it's hard to think of a weapon more suitable to the task than an AR-15, if one could have been under the bartender's shelf at the Pulse club last week.  Dozens of lives might have been saved if just one good guy had had one at the ready at that moment.

Those of us who have friends or family members who have been crime victims or are under real threat of harm or death understand perfectly well why an AR-15 might be a candidate tool for personal protection.  If you live in some idyllic part or social stratum of America where no one has been robbed, raped, or murdered in a hundred years, may God continue to bless you.  But don't render helpless those of us who are not as fortunate.  We live here.

Thousands of Americans are murdered every year.  While some of the victims are criminals or gangsters who but for the chance of circumstance might just as well have been the perpetrators, most are innocent.  All of those innocent victims might have had their chances of survival increased via the possession and mastery of a firearm, including a carbine.  If you had the power to rewind time and put an AR-15 in the hand of every murder victim just before their appointment with destiny, would you decline to do it because "nobody should have a weapon of war"?

Of course, we can't rewind the clock to save victims who are already dead.  And we also can't ensure that no bad guy ever gets a hold of a gun again no matter how strictly we legally control guns, any more than we can stop all drug abuse via drug prohibition laws.  Addicts and narco-traffickers find a way, to the great profit of the latter.

At the moment of the inevitable assault, the best thing we can do is to even the odds for potential future victims.  The right to bear arms is the right to self-preservation, the primordial moral imperative that trumps (sorry) all other law.  The reasons we baked this right into the Constitution are as valid today as they were in 1787.  Any law or regulation that infringes upon this right, even if it increases hurdles by degrees for criminals and terrorists, puts the latter at a relative advantage over their victims.  Innocent Americans are hurt more by gun control laws than the scumbags are.

Why should anyone need or want an AR-15?  To save innocent lives, like those in Orlando, San Bernardino, and Paris.  As the French say, parce que c'est bon – because it's good.

Howard Hyde is author of the book Escape from Berkeley: An EX liberal progressive socialist embraces America (and doesn't apologize).  He edits the website www.CitizenEcon.com.

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