The anti-gun lobby has made the AR-15 rifle into the new poster boy for gun control. They call it and similar rifles “assault weapons”, which is a term with no real meaning. See The Truth About Assault Weapons if you need details. (A big tip of the hat to whoever put that presentation together.) In fact, they are ordinary rifles owned by millions. The AR-15 is tremendously popular, yet is used in just a tiny fraction of all gun-related homicides.
So why are the gun-banning lobby fixated on these so-called “assault weapons”? Of course it’s useful to have a poster boy for your cause, and this one looks like a big mean army gun, so they can make people think it’s a military weapon. They even call it “military-style” when styling has no bearing on its use. It’s simply not a military weapon. The military uses automatic weapons, which the AR-15 is not.
This is the most popular rifle in America, selling millions. Are people buying military guns? Again, no. Some are influenced by its military “style” — it just looks cool, and it looks like what the good guys use in the movies. But mostly they’re buying it for many very practical reasons:
- It’s lightweight and easy to use
- It’s reliable, accurate, and reasonably priced
- It’s modular, so it can be adapted to different calibers and uses
- Because it’s so popular, parts and accessories are plentiful
One of the best and most versatile rifles of all time, it can be adapted to many roles: marksmanship, hunting, defense, ranch work, and so on. Some states permit deer hunting with it. (Other states do not, considering its .223 round underpowered for deer.) The police use it almost exclusively. One thing it is seldom used for is murder:
Those pushing for a ban on so-called “assault weapons” are either being intentionally deceptive or simply ignorant followers of those who are. There is a coordinated strategy, going back decades, to use the idea of “assault weapons” to increase public support for further gun restrictions.  The campaign against these rifles, used very rarely for criminal purposes, is just another step in the campaign to remove as many firearms as possible from the hands of citizens.
As an approach to gun crime, it’s worse than pointless. As a marketing strategy it’s brilliant. It’s the thin end of a wedge whose final goal is the confiscation of all guns.
- Congessional Research Services
- FBI Uniform Crime Statistics
- Justin Peters, slate.com
- Dave Kopel, Independence Institute