Would Banning AR-15's Make People Safer?

in news •  last year

I was reading this article in the Atlantic today, and I just felt the need to chime in because I think I have some relevant information that will point to how irrelevant the information in this article is. According to the radiologist who penned this opinion piece, paraphrasing here of course, she claims that the AR-15 cartridges used in the school shooting were "devastatingly lethal" as compared to the handgun wounds she has treated in the past. Therefore we should ban the AR-15, right? Wrong.

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The AR platform typically uses a relatively low-power .223/5.56 rifle round. One commenter suggested just banning the "high powered" round instead of the type of rifle. The problem with this is that almost all center-fire rifle cartridges would need to be banned along with it, because most of them are more powerful than the .223/5.56. For example, a .30-06 or .308 hunting round will do enough damage on a human-sized animal (I'm talking about deer here) that multiple organs will hemorrhage like the radiologist talks about with the liver example. These are just a couple of the more common big game hunting cartridges, but for larger game, even larger calibers with more power behind them are used that do even more damage when fired into a live target.

The reason all of this is irrelevant however is that if the government is considering a ban, it should at least look at whether a ban on something will actually result in an increase in public safety. Forgetting about whether the government would actually be able to competently remove these types of weapons from the hands of actual criminals instead of just average gun owners, we can look at the data and see if a particular type of weapon is implicated in lots of murders and other violent crimes. The simple fact of the matter is that AR-15's are not used in lots of murders. In fact, as I pointed out here, long guns are not really used very often in crimes. If you add up all of the murders committed with the .223/5.56 (I choose the caliber because many crimes go unsolved and investigators only know the caliber, not the weapon), all other rifle cartridges combined, along with shotguns, you're still more likely to be beat to death by someone's bare hands. It's a drop in the bucket statistically speaking, and it will serve no purpose but to give politicians a reason to pat themselves on the back during the next election cycle.

So in the above article, Hether Sher draws the absurd conclusion that because these rifle cartridges can do more damage than handgun cartridges like 9mm, we should ban "high powered" rifles. So to recap, rifles generally aren't used in murders, and these highly publicized mass shootings are statistically insignificant anecdotes. The vast majority of gun murders are committed with handguns (19 times as likely as rifles!). The .223/5.56 rifle round, as far as center fire cartridges go, is not particularly powerful. Banning any type of rifle will do exactly nothing to make people safer.

Something else to note here is that I do not now, nor have I ever owned an AR-15. I prefer to shoot rifles with what they call a "Monte Carlo" stock. Having grown up being trained in marksmanship and hunting by my father, I understand that you'll usually only get an opportunity to get one, maybe two shots accurately on target before your game starts to run. Therefore, I don't have much use for a semi-automatic rifle because I think that shot placement is more important than sending lots of lead down range. In other words, I take my time shooting, even if I've got a semi-auto in my hands. All of that said, banning AR-15's or semi-automatic rifles will make exactly nobody safer. Don't believe me? Look at what some people can do with primitive repeating firearms:

Now I get it, these guys are professional trick shooters, but it goes to show how quickly shots can be placed with any kind of repeating firearm. The revolver and lever action are over a century old and most semi-automatics are derivatives of technology that's almost as old. We'd have to go back to muzzle loaders to make reloading slow enough that only one shot could be fired in a short amount of time. You'd also have to ban bows and arrows, which can be reloaded surprisingly quickly (one of the reasons the Native American Indians fared so well in close-quarters combat against the colonial militaries). When it comes to guns, the technological cat is out of the bag. We're not going to put it back in, no matter how hard anyone tries, nor should we.

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There are hand gun rounds more powerful than the .223.
However, if this was about a logical debate, then the "ban guns" people would just stay home and cower in their apartments.

They don't care. They believe in rainbow farting unicorns.
They believe in authority.

And authority wants no one to challenge their authority.
The army mostly has M-16s. How dare "the people" be armed with something almost, but not quite, equal.

Perhaps the massive injuries the radiologist noted were due to the type of casing, rather than the round. I haven't done any research on this case--I'm on a very low-news diet at the moment--but maybe the shooter was using hollow points or incendiary rounds, and the radiologist just didn't know enough about it to pinpoint the cause of the differences in the wounds to what she was used to seeing? Of course, they sell hollow points in just about every handgun caliber, too.

I'm so tired of hearing these arguments for bans and "stricter gun laws" from people who know absolutely nothing about guns.


I was thinking that as well at one point but I didn't want to get too bogged down in technical stuff for this little blurb. She is right though. If you have say 9mm and 5.56, both FMJ, the .223/5.56 will do more damage just because of the velocity involved, even though the 9mm is a much larger and heavier bullet. There's more energy behind the .223/5.56 and it passes more of it into the target as opposed to the 9mm which would typically poke a hole clean through. Compared to a typical hunting load in .308 though, the difference in energy is huge. I remember helping field dress a deer my father shot with .30-06 (same size projectiles and powder charges typically as .308). It completely destroyed the bone in one upper leg, passed through the rib cage, took out both lungs, took out most of the heart on its way through, exited the rib cage, destroyed the other upper leg bone and kept on going. The diameter of damage on the inside was about the size of a bowling ball. He also poached deer with his .223 (he has since passed, so I can talk about it now) and the wounds on those were nowhere near the big game rounds. In fact, he would usually head or spinal shoot with that gun because it didn't have enough stopping power. .223/5.56 is not a "high powered rifle."

Smart shoot, great guns for army