Folks, we’re back to this nonsense again. Demonizing a rifle that is owned by millions of Americans, a rifle that is versatile, a rifle that is not scary in any sense of the imagination; a rifle with little to no recoil, light, accurate, and reliable. Women shooters love them. Yet, they’ve been used in a rash of mass shootings. The Atlantic, for reasons that escape me, decided to write a brief history of the firearm, a history that any gun owner or Second Amendment supporter knows:
What is this gun? Why is it the weapon that people who want to kill a lot of other people, in a hurry, mainly choose? Tim Dickinson offered a useful history of the AR-15’s emergence as the main implement of mass murder last year in Rolling Stone (“All-American Killer: How the AR-15 Became Mass Shooters’ Weapon of Choice”), and Meghan O’Dea in Fortune and Aaron Smith for CNN also had valuable reports.
But there’s another angle of the AR-15 saga that has slightly slipped from view. It is why this particular weapon is so unusually effective in killing things—even when compared with other firearms.
The AR-15, created by the celebrated armaments designer Eugene Stoner, had many advantages, but a crucial one was that it used smaller, lighter bullets than some predecessors, which traveled at higher speed.
A little bullet pays off so much in wound ballistics. That is what people who choose these weapons know.
I remember one other thing about that story. Everyone I interviewed about these weapons at the time—the AR-15, its bastard offspring M-16, the opposing AK-47—assumed as a first premise that they were talking about battlefield equipment. None of them seemed to imagine such killing power in civilian hands.
No doubt, the AR-15 is lethal. Any firearm is lethal, then why do police use the AR-15 for its “under-powered” performance. USA Today also delved into the AR-15 and actually spoke with a gun expert:
Dean Hazen, owner of The Gun Experts in Mahomet, Ill., and a master firearms instructor, said the reason mass shooters are turning to the AR-15 is due to a "copy-cat" mentality more than any feature of the rifle.
"It’s really just a perception thing," Hazen said. "There are rifles that are more powerful and more dangerous than that, but they're not being used."
For example, Hazen says the AK-47 — and its semiautomatic variants — is a "far more wicked gun than an AR-15." The AK-47 variants can hold just as many rounds as the AR-15, are more reliable and use larger 7.62 mm rounds as opposed to the standard AR-15's .223 rounds.
Some killers might be drawn to the AR-15 because they are the "weapon of choice" for the military and police. But ironically, the police "choose it because it is under-powered, Hazen said, "making it less likely to penetrate interior walls and hit an unintended target." The Army is considering moving to a higher-caliber rifle partly because that would make the weapon more deadly.
Hazen said the AR-15 has "gotten a bad rap." He believes mass shooters generally don't know much about guns and choose the AR-15 because of the reputation it has gotten from being used in other mass shootings.
"Thank God they don't know any better because if they did they would use much more effective weapons," Hazen said.
So, which is it? Is the AR-15 a mighty killing machine that must be taken off the streets, or is it just that it’s as lethal as any firearm would be—it’s just that the design scares liberals? I think it’s the latter because it’s true that the AK-47 carries a more powerful round. And the AK-47 is also reliable, though it has more recoil. The AR-15 is a good weapons system. It’s lethal, but it’s nothing out of Robocop. Shotguns and rifles are also rarely used in gun crimes. Now, for a good laugh, read this about the AR-15.
Relax folks; the rifle isn’t going anywhere, though with articles like these—you can expect sales to soar. Oh, and no one puts chainsaw bayonets on them either. This isn't Gears of War.