Politicians tend to develop a mental malady where they think the mere accident of their election renders them as experts on many things. As anyone who has ever worked in a field they’ve attempted to touch can verify, they are far from experts, barely rise to the level of dilettantes, and tend to do more harm than good to most of what they touch.
The current hysteria over firearms that have been on the market for more than a century is a perfect case in point.
Semi-automatic firearms—firearms that fire one shot per trigger pull, not to be confused with machine guns—have been around for more than 120 years. Various semi-automatic pistols have been popular in the civilian market since the early 1900s, and semi-automatic rifles were normalized when GIs in World War II went into battle with the M1 Garand and the M1 carbine over 60 years ago. In the postwar period, semi-automatic pistols, shotguns, and rifles became the “new normal,” and have remained so ever since, slowly but surely eroding the sales of more traditional bolt-action, pump-action, and multi-barrel firearms as the semi-automatic designs became more reliable, more accurate, and less expensive to produce.
The Templar Custom MCWS (Multi-Caliber Weapons System) pictured at the top of this post is a modern evolution of a firearm that has been sold to civilians in this nation for almost 50 years, the AR-15 (AR coming from the first two letters of the company that created it, Armalite). When Eugene Stoner designed the AR-15, he probably had no idea that variants of his rifle would become the most popular centerfire rifle sold in the United States, and he certainly couldn’t have anticipated how well its modular design would be adapted.
The MCWS is just one example of the modularity and adaptability of the AR-15 rifle. I presently have three barrels and two bolts for my MCWS, and when I include my CMMG .22 LR conversion kit, I’m equipped for almost any role possible with a rifle. When equipped with the CMMG conversion kit, I can practice basic marksmanship relatively inexpensively, or hunt small game. Equipped with the .223 Wylde barrel and standard bolt, I can shoot .223 Remington ammunition for training, varmint hunting, mid-range target shooting and self defense out to a distance of 500-600 yards. In keeping with the Founder’s original intent of citizen’s being armed with firearms of contemporary military utility, it uses the same STANAG magazines as the U.S. military, and can fire the same ammunition without modification as needed. By swapping out the .223 Wylde Barrel for one chambered for the 6.5 Grendel cartridge and the matching bolt, I have a rifle perfectly suited for medium sized game such as deer and elk, and can fire in long-range competitions, out to 1,200 yards or more. The 300 AAC Blackout gives me a shorter-range .30 caliber bullet that excels for hunting, or with shift of ammunition, allows me to shoot sub-sonic ammunition that isn’t quite as loud as other rifle cartridges, especially if I decide to use a suppressor. If I opt for the 50 Beowulf barrel, I’ll have something capable of taking the largest dangerous game in the Americas.
In addition to the caliber swaps—which take less than five minutes with this particular design—AR-15s often have adjustable stock-lengths, so that people of different sizes can fire them. Different sighting systems are easy to adapt (iron sights, to red dots, to various kinds of scopes for shooting both near and far), and the basic design can be whittled down to a 5-pound rifle for those who want an ultra-lite gun for backpacking or smaller shooters, or formed into a 12-pound long-distance rifle for target shooters, or anything in between.
Of course, the AR-15 still excels at its original purpose, individual self defense. It originally performed that role for the military as the selective-fire (modes of both semi-automatic and fully-automatic fire) M16 and later the shorter M4 carbine, but the semi-automatic only (not remotely capable of “spraying” bullets) has been sold to civilians since 1964, and more than 3 million have been purchased. Today, it is the most popular rifle in America.
Yet despite this reality, some self-important politicians and their masters in the media have taken it upon themselves to attack this common, useful, and dependable firearm owned by millions of law-abiding citizens, because they have been used in a handful of high profile crimes this year. One man attacked a movie theater, another a mall, and a third a school. Each man, woman and child killed and injured was a horrible loss.
But why are we blaming the firearm selected as if it was guilty of a crime, and not merely a tool picked at random by an evil mind?
AR-15s do not fire faster than any other firearm used for hunting, target shooting, or self-defense. They fire a maximum of 45-60 shots a minute if you fire as fast as you pull the trigger; for well-aimed shots beyond point-blank range, the practical rate of fire is just 20 rounds per minute. Compare this to the military M4 carbine, which has a cyclic rate of fire of up to 950 rounds per minute.
The media and politicians lie to us, and attempt to conflate one as being the other.
You have to wonder why that is, and why it is in their agenda to spread intentional disinformation about America’s Rifle, a firearm that even the government itself admits excels as a personal defense weapon. The reality is that as a result of the Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, assault rifles like the M4 and M16 have not been made for public purchase since then. You heard correctly; new assault rifles have not been made for the public in 27 years.
We’ve only had one-shot-per-trigger-pull AR-15s since then, and they are, as the Department of Homeland Security notes, excellent personal security rifles.
If someone attempts to break into my home, I don’t want my wife or myself to be armed with a small handgun with a short sight radius that is hard to shoot accurately under stress, and with limited ammunition. I don’t want her firing pistol bullets that have a long and documented history of over-penetrating through walls and even entire houses, putting our neighbor’s lives at unnecessary risk.
Should that bad day come to pass I want us to have access to a a firearm that:
- is a long-gun, with a stock and foregrip, to help assist controlling the the firearm
- has a long sight radius, to enhance practical accuracy
- has the ability to easily add lights and red dots for low-light situations
- has low recoil to stay on the target and keep the firearm under control
- has a reasonably effective high velocity lightweight hollowpoint bullet to induce fragmentation and reduce the risk of over-penetration
- has a large enough magazine to address both individuals or a small group of threats
- is easily adjusted to fit whichever family member needs it
Above all other firearms I could choose, an AR-15 type carbine is a far superior option compared to any handgun or shotgun I can name.
Shotguns have a low magazine capacity, and the various pump models are easily “short-stroked” to induce jams under stress. Further, the commonly recommended self-defense loads are far more punishing on the shooter, and often over-penetrate the most common building materials more than a lightweight fragmenting hollowpoint generally will.
Handguns, which have much shorter barrels than either rifles or shotguns, are difficult to aim accurately even for professionals; police officers miss more than 50% of the time at ranges as close as arm’s length. Handguns also have a much smaller magazine/cylinder capacity, from 5-17 rounds depending on make and model. The standard capacity of the AR-15 is 30-rounds.
The U.S. Government and police agencies around the nation has chosen the AR-15 as the personal defense weapon of choice for their officers and agents. Now that you have a better idea why they made that decision, shouldn’t you have the same option to defend those that you love?