Due in no small part to the negligence of the news media and their failure in honestly informing the general public, the dreaded AR-15 rifle is probably the most misunderstood firearm out there right now. And lately, the mantra of nobody needs an AR-15 has been taken out, dusted off and given some very extensive use.
Today I am going to set aside my frustration at the framing of the question as one of needs vs. rights. Instead, I want to look at the question, assume that the one asking the question is asking in good faith (always tricky with the modern anti-gun crowd), and try to give an answer.
The poor ol’ AR-15. Some people think the AR stands for assault rifle. Even worse is when people say it stands for automatic rifle. In fact, the AR stands for Armalite Rifle, named after the manufacturer Armalite and the 15 is the model number. Not nearly as alarming. While people think it is the most dangerous thing out there, they are wrong. There are over 10,000,000 privately owned AR-15 style rifles in the U.S.A. right now. How many have been used in mass shootings? It first became available to the public here in 1963.
The fact is that the AR-15 style rifles look tacti-cool, and that military look gives rise to both its popularity and its hate. I like them, no surprise I’m sure. I prefer more powerful firearms, but the AR-15 style has a coolness that is undeniable.
But, does anyone actually need one?
An unpopular answer I am sure, but I say yes.
Why? Let me explain.
Here is a fact for you; shooting well isn’t easy. It took me forever to become a decent shot. I’m no John Wick, but I’m not bad anymore. But I started with handguns. I started out with a very powerful .357 magnum and was terrible for a long time. Later, I bought a rifle. The first time I fired the rifle it hit right where I aimed. I didn’t fully understand why, but I was amazed at the difference.
With a rifle, it is easier to shoot well. With a rifle, you have three points of contact with the weapon as you fire; your shoulder and both hands (which are also separated some distance). This reduces the recoil and provides a stability that enhances your accuracy. And with the AR-15, it is very easy to shoot well. Between the design of the gun itself and the very low recoil, your accuracy goes up.
In some States, you are only allowed to have a ten round magazine for your AR-15. But other States trust their residents with much higher capacity. Many AR style guns come with a 30 round magazine. 30 rounds of .223 would be plenty to ward off a home invasion. Most people who are shot once will try to vacate the scene immediately. Drugs can change the math a bit, but still…30 rounds. You’ve got it covered. And if you have an extra magazine or two laying around, you are very well equipped to defend your home.
Because the AR shoots the .223 round, the recoil is next to nothing. For those of you from my generation, kids first rifles were a .22 caliber. Primarily because there is no real recoil issue. There is a certain “journalist” who wrote an article designed to scare people about the AR-15, and went a bit too far and claimed to have been bruised by the recoil (he also claimed “temporary PTSD” from the experience, even though PTSD isn’t temporary). He is still a joke in the gun community because of this. A small person can fire an AR-15 accurately in part because there is very little recoil. A large person can one-hand fire the rifle and still shoot well.
Ease of use
The AR-15 is not complicated to use. And with options like a red dot sight, things just get easier. USA Today said you can even get the optional Chainsaw Bayonet, and how much more simple could you need to have your plans for handling a home invasion be than an AR-15 equipped with a chainsaw bayonet?!?
Seriously though, the AR-15 is a well designed, well-functioning firearm. People are easily manipulated by the alarmist news media, but it is really not the most powerful firearm, and it is certainly not the most used firearm in mass murders. A friend of mine recently shared an op-ed claiming that the AR-15 is so dangerous because its round is designed to “shred flesh”. The .223 punches very quickly through its target, to be sure. But there are hunting rounds that are much more impressive in the flesh-shredding category.
The next time there is a news story about this firearm, please remind yourself that it is not military grade, it is a modern sporting rifle, and that it has a very real use for new shooters and smaller people in leveling the field when it comes to self-defense.