I’ve written this here as a tool, so that I can link to it instead of re-writing it every time that someone posts something stupid about the AR-15 online.
First off, a disclaimer:
I DO NOT OWN AN AR-15. I’ve never had the urge to buy one, because that particular rifle is not one that would be useful to me in what I do. I suppose I could use it for coyote hunting, and in fact, it would be an excellent choice for just exactly that, but I can’t make myself part with my little Ruger .243. So I don’t really have a personal dog in this hunt. I’m just concerned about incrementalism and guns, and the reason is that taking away a certain brand or type of rifle won’t solve the underlying issues that are causing people to go nuts and kill other people.
Take away AR-15s, and accomplish nothing but making the next most popular brand of rifle the one that is used by the mass murderers. Take that one away, and the next most popular rifle will be used. Take all guns away, and they’ll start using gasoline bombs and fire. Take those away (really?) and they’ll use pitchforks and swords. The problem isn’t a certain type of rifle or weapon being available, it’s the willingness of people to use them on other people that is the problem.
Now that that’s done, here is my top-ten list of reasons that banning the AR-15 is a shitty idea:
1.) It is just a regular, every day rifle that looks scary.
Quick, can you tell me the difference between the two rifles shown in the pictures below?
Here is a list of the real differences between these rifles:
• They look different from each other;
• One of them fires much more powerful ammunition than the other;
• One of them is on the list of rifles that would be banned by a new Assault Weapons Bill, and one of them isn’t.
Oh, and one more thing, that hunting rifle above is the one with more powerful ammunition, not the scary looking black rifle, which shoots a much less powerful round. But more on that later.
Essentially, for the sake of this bullet point, the only difference between these rifles is that one of them looks scary, and has the potential to be banned, while the other one, the one that is more powerful and more accurate, is not. The reason for this is pure, unadulterated ignorance pushed forth by a media complex that wants to disarm the populace because of their political leanings.
2.) It is not an automatic.
You’ve probably heard a lot of technical terms being bandied about in the news recently. Things like “rate of fire” and “high capacity” and “high powered” and “automatic” and so forth. I will address the first and last items in this bullet, and the middle two in subsequent bullets. When you hear news people discussing things like “rate of fire” and calling the AR-15 “automatic” you need to stop listening to them immediately, because they are lying to you.
The AR-15 is not an automatic rifle, or a machine gun, as they are more commonly referred to as.
The term “automatic” means that if you pull the trigger on a rifle and hold it down, that the rifle will continue firing until it has expended all of its ammunition. Automatic fire is seen in the movies and in the military only nowadays, and the reason for this is that there are already laws on the books making it illegal for any civilian to own an automatic firearm of any type (with a few notable exceptions for people who like to do paperwork for a living, but I won’t go into that). So you can’t have an automatic already, so no new law is needed here.
The AR-15 is not an automatic. The action (the mechanism for cocking and loading the rifle) is similar to that of an automatic, but it is not the same, for one huge reason – if you pull the trigger on an AR-15 and hold it down, it will fire one round, and one round only. You have to pull the trigger once for every single shot you fire, just like every single other rifle on the civilian market. It is not a machine gun, or an automatic. For your reference, what the AR-15 is called is an “autoloading” rifle or more colloquially a “semi-automatic.” All this means is that when you fire the rifle, the energy from the expanding gasses in the barrel of the rifle is used to cycle the action to load the next bullet into the chamber, instead of having to manually cock it between shots, like with a bolt action of lever-action gun.
The hunting rifle pictured above in bullet number one is also an autoloading or semi-automatic rifle, meaning that it functions identically to the AR-15.
3.) A rifle with a detachable box magazine does not have a “capacity,” so the AR-15 cannot be labeled as being “high capacity.”
To call a rifle with a detachable box magazine “high capacity” is to have a fundamental misunderstanding of how that rifle works. The rifle does not have an inherent “capacity.” The magazine does. You may hear of magazines being referred to as “clips” in the news. Although this is technically incorrect, since a clip is different from a magazine, the point still stands. When you are talking about the capacity of many different kinds of rifles, pistols, and so forth, you aren't actually referring to the capacity of the gun, itself, but of the magazine that feeds it. The AR-15 does not have a capacity. The Remington 7400 hunting rifle shown above does not have a capacity, either. The magazines feeding them do, and that is what dictates that capacity of the rifle at any given point in time. So if you take your AR-15 to the range and load it up with a 30 round capacity magazine, it has a capacity of 30 rounds. If you then switch over to your 5 round magazine, it has 5 rounds.
4.) Capacity of the magazine has very little to do with the ability of a shooter to do massive amounts of harm.
Switching magazines is not a big deal. Rifles were designed so that you could reload them by switching magazines and saving yourself the trouble of fumbling about with a mess of loose bullets, so even if you restrict magazine capacity with a new law, it won’t change the ability of the rifle in any meaningful way. Magazines are cheap pieces of stamped sheet metal. If you want to shoot thirty rounds into a target, you can do so with three ten round magazines just as easily as you can with one thirty round magazine. Here is a link to a guy changing magazines in his rifle. Does that look to you like a major impediment to him putting rounds downrange?
Furthermore, I’ll add that the rifle used in the Columbine Massacre was fed by 10 round magazines, not 30 round magazines, so it does not appear that magazine capacity has any real effect on the effectiveness of a rifle.
5.) The AR-15 is not “high powered.”
The AR-15 shoots a 55 grain, 5.56 millimeter bullet at velocities of 3,000 ish feet per second, resulting in 1,318 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. I know, impressive numbers, right?
Actually, no, not really.
The Remington 7400 up there comes in a bunch of different calibers, but I’ll take a guess at which one is the most popular and use the 30-06 (spoken as “thirty aught six”). It throws a 150 grain, 7.62 millimeter bullet at velocities of 3,000 feet per second resulting in about 3,000 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. That equates to a bullet that is three times heavier, 37% larger, and with over twice the energy. How about the Remington 7400 in 300 winchester magnum? It throws a 190 grain, 7.62 millimeter bullet at velocities of 3,000 feet per second and with energies approaching 4,000 foot pounds.
To put it in more simple terms, most states will not allow a hunter to use the AR-15 to hunt deer because the bullet that it fires is too weak to humanely kill a deer. I’m not kidding. And no, I’m not making that up.
6.) The AR-15 is not unique among rifles in its abilities, in any way, whatsoever.
In fact, in accuracy, the 7400 has it beat, as well as a myriad of different offerings from many companies, all of whom develop non-scary looking hunting rifles that will put the AR-15 to shame.
7.) The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America. The Toyota Camry is the most popular car in America. Want to guess which car is in more accidents than any other car in America?
The AR-15 was used in the Beltway sniper attacks, Columbine, the Clackamas Mall shooting, the Aurora theater mass killing, and in the Sandyhook massacre, and so it is catching the brunt of this fervor for gun control, but no one has really analyzed why that is.
The AR-15 is by far the most popular, best selling rifle in America, for a lot of reasons. It’s a good rifle. A reliable varmint hunter, and a good personal defense weapon (mainly, in both cases, to its intermediate, low-powered ammunition making it easy for smaller people to handle, as described above). Could it possibly be that the AR-15 gets used more than other rifles simply because there are so many of them out there due to popularity? Sort of like how Toyota Camrys get in more accidents than other cars, not because they are inherently unsafe, but rather just because there are more of them out there than any other type of car? If we take away the Toyota Camry’s, another car will rise to the top as the car in the most accidents. The same is true of the AR-15. If you take it away, another type of rifle will take its place. Which leads me to my next point:
8.) The ship has sailed.
You’re too late. The ship has sailed. There are millions and millions of them in circulation right now. What’s your plan for rounding them all up? Do you think that AR-15 sales are at all-time record highs right now because people are planning to turn them in once they are made illegal? The best you can do is to make illegal the manufacture of high-capacity magazines, but there are already millions, perhaps even billions, of those running around, so again, what’s your plan? Anything you do at this point will e meaningless in your lifetime and for the next 3 generations – there’ll be plenty of supply running about for bad men to get their hands on and use to foul purpose.
9.) It will allow people to go back to feeling good again, because they've managed to “do something” but the feeling of accomplishment will be false and highly dangerous.
Complacency is the biggest enemy here. After Columbine, people clamored for schools to be “gun free” zones, and once they got that, they went back to sleep, oblivious to the fact that a person bent on mass murder isn't going to wither at the site of a sign telling him he can’t bring his guns into the school. So the next catastrophe happened. Then the next. And every time, we “DID SOMETHING” that was meaningless and accomplished nothing so that we could feel good about ourselves and forget about it and move on. Let’s not do it again, at such high cost to millions of lawful, law abiding gun owners. What you’re proposing will just be another placebo. It will just serve to make you feel like you've “done something” when you've really done nothing at all.
The one thing linking all of these killings together is that a violent sociopath put out all the warning signs of losing his shit, and people did nothing to stop it because none of them had the information available to know that something needed to be done. A violent sociopath will find ways to kill people, let’s be honest here. A bucket of bleach and drain cleaner and a blocked doorway would have killed 28 at Sandyhook just as efficiently as the AR-15 did, and my guess is that you all wouldn't be clamoring for drain cleaner bans soon after, because you'd realize how silly that is. Bad guys do bad things. Lets focus on doing something about that rather than doing something that won’t accomplish a thing.
10.) I know that this one is beat into the ground, but the logic is sound as a pound – if you make guns illegal, only criminals will have guns.
There are millions of AR-15s in America that have never been used to kill anyone, owned by good people that, like me, enjoy shooting as a sport, a hobby, and a way of life, who will never in their lives have any inkling to hurt anyone that isn’t actively trying to hurt them first. My guns have fired thousands and thousands of rounds, and I’ve never shot anyone. If you make the AR-15 illegal, then the only thing you’re going to accomplish is to take it out o the hands of the good citizens who would care to turn it in to the authorities. All of the criminals and bad people out there don’t give two hot shits about our laws, and will keep their AR-15s, thank you very much, so you’ll accomplish nothing to get these guns out of the hands of the people from whom you want to remove them.
And any argument that it could have stopped Columbine (illegally owned gun), Sandyhook (illegally possessed gun across state lines) or any of the other shootings is silly. That would rely on a police officer just happening to stop them on their way to shoot up the school and then just happening to see probable cause to search their car, and finding the gun. Give me a break, and give up on your faith in laws to stop these things. Bad guys don’t care about laws.