In an effort to educate the people AND the media, here are some facts and history on the AR-15.
I will endeavor to be as professional with opinions as long as the questions or remarks are presented the same way. Readers are culturally diverse and from several different countries and everyone has an opinion.
- My first question. How did the AR-15 become the "big baddie" of the anti-gun crowd?
It's #16 on the photo above. There are only 11 other bullets with a smaller circumference than the 5.56x45 AR-15 round, and 5 of those are hand gun ammunition. EVERYTHING ELSE is larger...making a larger entrance and exit wound than then ammo from an AR-15. BIGSCARY GUN it is.
Every single bullet shown above can be purchased in the USA. Every one. Only 11 rounds shown above are smaller than the AR-15's. But the left, anti-gun folks would have everyone think that the AR-15 is a weapon of war, and that is complete bunk. The Barrett .50 BMB sniper rifle that can engage a man-sized target over 1 mile away with ease - THAT is a weapon of war...but because it isn't common, it isn't targeted by the anti-gun group. If they want to ban guns, all I'm asking for is "truth in advertising." But they lie, and here is how:
First, it is important to understand what an assault weapon isn't. The terms "assault weapon" and "assault rifle" are often confused. According to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review:
- "Prior to 1989, the term "assault weapon" did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term, developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of "assault rifles." "
If an assault weapon is not an assault rifle, what is an assault rifle?
For Example: The M4A1 is fully automatic. This means it fires multiple rounds each time the trigger is pulled. The M4A1 can fire up to 950 rounds per minute. The M4A1 and other fully automatic firearms are also called machine guns. In 1986, the Federal government banned the sale or transfer of new machine guns to civilians. Like the majority of firearms sold in the United States, the AR-15 is semi-automatic. This means it fires one round each time the trigger is pulled. The AR-15 can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute depending on the skill of the operator. This rate of fire is comparable to other semi-automatic firearms, but pales in comparison to fully automatic assault rifles, some of which can fire more than 1,000 rounds per minute.
The truth about AR-15s, or the politically termed “assault weapons”, is that they function like this ranch rifle...
…and this shotgun
…and this pistol
…and this double action revolver
All of these guns only fire one round each time the trigger is pulled. They are NOT assault weapons in the technical definition, as they are NOT fully automatic.
So, why is the anti-gun crowd, the media and our politicians going after the AR-15 when it functions EXACTLY the same as most shotguns and hunting rifles? The answer, is simple:
Perception. According to a 1988 report by the Violence Policy Center, an VERY left leaning anti-gun lobby: “Handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons – anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun – can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. “
In the late 1980s, more than two decades after the AR-15 was first sold to the American public, the anti-gun lobby began a systematic campaign to conflate it and other "military-style" firearms with machine guns. The media followed suit, and soon the American public began to think that an assault weapon was, like the assault rifles it resembled, a machine gun.
This strategy came to fruition in 1993, when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) was introduced in Congress. The AWB would ban the sale of new assault weapons to American civilians.
However, since "assault weapon" was an invented term, it had no technical meaning. Before assault weapons could be banned, legislators had to define them.
Because assault rifles were already banned, and because an outright ban on semi-automatic firearms wasn't considered politically feasible, the AWB defined assault weapons as semi-automatic firearms that shared too many cosmetic features with their fully automatic counterparts.
These banned "military-style" features included certain combinations of collapsible stocks...
…and flash hiders…
…and pistol grips. NONE of which made the weapon any more lethal.
And According to a Department of Justice study, the firearms that the AWB would ban were used in only 2% of gun crimes.
Nevertheless, the AWB's passage was aided by the fact that many Americans believed the bill would ban machine guns and "weapons of war," something that had, in fact, already been banned. The ignorance of the American people bolstered the political “win” and the anti-gun agenda fed upon this ignorance to pass the bills.
The AWB also banned magazines having a capacity higher than ten rounds. This restriction applied to all firearms, not just so-called assault weapons.
To secure enough votes to pass the bill, a sunset provision was added. After ten years, the AWB would end.
On September 13, 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban went into effect. A Washington Post editorial published two days later was candid about the ban's real purpose:
- "[N]o one should have any illusions about what was accomplished [by the ban]. Assault weapons play a part in only a small percentage of crime. The provision is mainly symbolic; its virtue will be if it turns out to be, as hoped, a stepping stone to broader gun control.
When the AWB became law, manufacturers began retooling to produce firearms and magazines that were compliant. One of those ban-compliant firearms was the Hi-Point 995, which was sold with ten-round magazines.
In 1999, five years into the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, the Columbine High School massacre occurred. One of the perpetrators, Eric Harris, was armed with a Hi-Point 995.
Undeterred by the ten-round capacity of his magazines, Harris simply brought more of them: thirteen magazines would be found in the massacre's aftermath. Harris fired 96 rounds before killing himself.
In 2004, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired. It was not renewed. The AWB had failed to have an impact on gun crime in the United States. A 2004 Department of Justice report concluded:
“Should it be renewed, the ban's effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. [Assault weapons] were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.”
Regarding large capacity magazines, the study said:
” It is not clear how often the outcomes of gun attacks depend on the ability of offenders to fire more than ten shots (the current magazine capacity limit) without reloading.
Furthermore, legislators had misjudged the popularity of so-called assault weapons. In his memoir, Bill Clinton wrote that Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1994 midterm elections because of the AWB. Other Democrats have stated that the AWB may have cost Al Gore the 2000 presidential election.
At Virginia Tech in 2007, Seung-Hui Cho again showed the futility of regulating magazine capacity when he carried nineteen ten- and fifteen-round magazines in his backpack as part of a carefully planned massacre.
Cho used seventeen of the magazines and fired approximately 170 rounds—or ten rounds per magazine—from two handguns before killing himself. Like Eric Harris before him, Cho demonstrated that a magazine's capacity was incidental to the amount of death and injury an unopposed murderer could cause in a "gun-free zone."
Although the Virginia Tech massacre was and remains the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, it resulted in relatively few calls for new gun control, because so-called assault weapons were not used.
But after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the AR-15 and other so-called assault weapons were widely depicted as military weapons whose only purpose was to rapidly kill large numbers of people.
In reality, so-called assault weapons are commonly used by hunters and competitors.
It has been estimated that at least 3.3 million AR-15 rifles were sold in the United States between 1986 and 2009. In its ubiquity, the AR-15 is a modern musket—the default rifle with which law-abiding Americans exercise their right to keep and bear arms.
The AR-15 is particularly favored for its modularity, accuracy, light weight, and low recoil—attributes that make it ideal not only for shooting sports but also armed self-defense.
As such, it is the epitome of what America's founders sought to protect when they wrote the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Nevertheless, on December 17, 2012, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the author of the original AWB, announced her intention to introduce another Federal Assault Weapons Ban in Congress.
However, Senator Feinstein's own facts do not support her agenda. The truth about assault weapons is that they are underrepresented in gun crimes.
According to Senator Feinstein, so-called assault weapons have been used in 385 murders since the AWB expired in 2004, or about 48 murders per year. But there were 8,583 total murders with guns in the United States in 2011, meaning so-called assault weapons were used 0.6% of the time.
Further illustrating the small role so-called assault weapons play in crime, FBI data shows that 323 murders were committed with rifles of any kind in 2011 In comparison, 496 murders were committed with hammers and clubs, and 1,694 murders were perpetrated with knives.
Insofar as the AR-15 is used in crimes, the rifle's popularity must be considered.
Besides the AR-15, James Holmes used a best-selling and arguably more lethal shotgun at the Aurora movie theater shooting. At the Virginia Tech and Tucson shootings, Seung-Hui Cho and Jared Loughner used a best-selling handgun.
All else being equal, a gun that is common is more likely to be used for legal or illegal purposes than a gun that is rare. Outlawing guns that are popular today will only make different guns popular tomorrow.
The truth about assault weapons is that there is no such thing. So-called assault weapons are semi-automatic firearms—the guns most commonly used by millions of law-abiding Americans.
Banning firearms because of their cosmetic features is misguided.
- There are two ways to get rid of guns in the United States:
- Door to Door confiscation - which will lead to a very bad end, and insurrection (regardless of effectiveness, size or scope.)
- Attrition - where a kind or type of gun is labeled an assault weapon and listed as a banned weapon type.
Attrition is already in progress. But it will take, if effective at all, decades and decades to work.
There are approximately upwards of 360 million guns in the hands of private citizens in the United States. There is approximately 314 million US Citizens. There are only 1.4 million active duty military personnel and 880,000 reserve military in the entire US Military. There are only 794,000 police officers in the United States - that equates to 256 police for every 100,000 armed citizens. The outright ban on weapons in the United States is an impossible task.