The AR-15 is not a “Weapon of War” or an “Assault Rifle” or even an “Assault Weapon”

If you hear any of these three terms, then it was probably said by an anti-gun person. I am getting sick and tired of these terms being used as they are clearly spoken out of ignorance or they are being used disingenuously.

The Modern Sporting Rifle is built on the AR-15 platform. That is true. The AR-15 platform is used for target shooting, varmint hunting, and self defense. The AR-15 is a great rifle for many people because it is accurate, reliable, very rugged and able to take a great deal of abuse, and they are very versatile. Because of their design, AR-15s have very little recoil and are easy for people of all ages to shoot well.

Weapon of War – Politicians, celebrities, and the media have used this term over and over again so much that many of those in the anti-gun world have started repeating it just like parrots. Those that keep using this term do so, often, without really understanding what they are saying and believing it is true because they keep hearing it. Of course, that is assuming that they are just ignorant on the topic and are not deliberately repeating what they know to be wrong because it fits their point of view that these black rifles are somehow evil and the cause of so many deaths on our streets. BTW, the numbers will support that less than 1% of murders involve semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, but let’s not let facts get in the way.

Let’s look at some basic facts:

  • The Modern Sporting Rifle is not the same thing as the M-16 that is carried by our service members, which is actually the M-4, today. There are some minor differences in materials used and configurations, but the major difference is that Military versions are capable of firing bursts or fully automatic. That difference is HUGE.
  • Semi-automatics have been around for over 100 years.
    • The first semi-automatic rifle was produced in 1885.
    • The first semi-automatic handgun was produced in 1892.
    • The first semi-automatic shotgun was produced in 1902.
  • The vast majority of all firearms sold today are semi-automatics.
  • There are not easily purchased kits that convert these rifles to be fully automatic. No, you can’t change a spring or drop in a special piece that will make them into fully automatic rifles.
  • They do not come with grenade or rocket launchers like Sen. Feinstein believes.
  • Fully automatic firearms were severely restricted by the National Firearms Act of 1934. Since then, there are only two documented cases of a fully automatic rifle being used in a homicide.

Assault Rifle – An assault rifle is a weapon of war. This is absolutely true. The various definitions of an assault rifle are pretty consistent in that they include that the rifle is a select fire rifle. That means that the rifle has the ability to be fired in a semi-automatic mode or in either a burst fire mode or fully automatic. When hearing the term, keep in mind that:

  • Assault Rifles are true Military rifles.
  • The AR in AR-15 does not stand for Assault Rifle. It stands for Armalite Rifle. Armalite was the company that invented the rifle.
  • An AR-15 is NOT an assault rifle. It is simply a semi-automatic rifle that looks scary to some people.

“Assault Weapon” – This term is a completely made up political term. In almost all cases, you will see it with quotes around it as a means of demonstrating that it is not an accepted definition or term. However, our wonderful legislators made up the term when they implemented the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. Basically, the entire term is based on features of the rifle that have absolutely nothing to do with its power or lethalness. If a rifle has two of the following features, it was banned under the legislation. Here are the features:

  • A folding or telescoping stock – An AR-15 can have a standard stock, one that has multiple positions, and potentially a folding stock, which is rare. Telescoping is not necessarily the same thing as adjustable.
  • A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon – An AR-15 normally has a pistol grip. Does that really make it a more powerful weapon? Of course not.
  • A bayonet mount – Really? The ability to add a bayonet makes it more powerful? Very few AR-15s that are for sale have bayonet mounts because they are a waste of time and money to have on the rifle and nobody would use them.
  • A flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor – All this does is stop the shooter from being blinded by the flash of the rifle, and secondarily, it makes it harder to see the flash from a distance. It has no impact on the power or accuracy of the weapon.
  • A grenade launcher – If you have a grenade launcher and grenades for it, then I would say you have one really powerful weapon, and one that is absolutely illegal in a private citizen’s hands.
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