As I have encountered several times over the course of debating gun control in the wake of the horrific Parkland mass shooting, pro-gun advocates really like catching people referring to AR-15’s as “assault rifles.” They will laugh and assert that the person saying it doesn’t know what they’re talking about, and therefore dismiss their entire argument (missing the point entirely.) So, I’m careful not to actually call AR-15’s assault rifles. But I do refer to them as “military-style” weapons, because that is what they are.
The semantics debate obfuscates the core issues that many people have with these weapons. What gun control advocates are often trying to say when they refer to AR-15’s in this way is simply that they (and similar weapons) are highly powerful and can fire many rounds in a short amount of time, making them ideal for mass slaughter. AR-15’s are semi-automatic (one round fired per trigger pull) while assault weapons are fully automatic (multiple rounds fired as long as trigger is pulled.) But one aspect of the AR-15 that helps make it popular is that it is a highly customizable rifle. With add-ons called “bump stocks,” people are legally able to mimic full-auto fire, thus making that distinction negligible, especially for the purposes of a debate on the deadliness of these weapons. There are other customizations such as trigger cranks and binary triggers, which may or may not be legal, but which nonetheless are readily available.
As much as pro-gun advocates will try to deny it, even though technically AR-15’s aren’t actually assault-rifles, they can be customized to mimic them. Look at these examples of gun enthusiasts demonstrating how quickly they can shoot:
So, no, gun advocates…AR-15’s are not technically assault rifles. But, as shown above, they can easily and legally mimic them, and don’t belong in the hands of civilians. Period.
After engaging with gun rights folks online for the past week, in light of the horrific mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14th, I have come to the conclusion that the most commonly heard arguments against tighter gun control laws basically boil down to a singular sentiment:
“I Don’t Want To Give Up My AR-15.”
That’s what it comes down to: “My rights to my shooting hobby and owning a military-style semi-automatic rifle outweigh other Americans’ rights to having a decent expectation of safety in public spaces such as schools, movie theaters, and churches.” No matter how many shootings happen, or how deadly they become. No matter if it’s children or high schoolers getting slaughtered. Too bad. I want my lethal toys.
Well, to this blatant selfishness on the part of gun advocates, I say “too bad.” Too fucking bad. AR-15’s and similar rifles have no place in a civilized society, other than in the hands of the military and police. I don’t care what you think the 2nd Amendment entitles you to, because you’re wrong. There is no sound argument against having sensible restrictions on these killing machines. And rational Americans who place more value in the lives of our children than semi-automatic rifles will keep fighting until changes are made.
Since the horrific shooting at a Florida high school last week, I have been engaged in many online debates concerning gun control. One of the most typical responses against the concept of increased gun restrictions are that gun control won’t work, and usually involve comparisons to the failed War On Drugs. Gun rights advocates say that criminals and “bad guys” will still be able to get their hands on guns, and the only thing gun control will accomplish is disarming the “good guys.”
So, I have a question to ask. Why don’t we see more fully automatic machine guns (“assault rifles”) at very many of these mass shooting scenes? In fact, why are these types of weapons, which were banned for civilians in 1986, and which have been heavily regulated federally since 1934, so seldom actually used in crimes in general?
I have yet to receive an answer. I guess I’ll keep asking…
There is often a focus on semantics during gun control debates as pertaining to the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, which is extremely popular and often finds itself the weapon of choice for mass shooters.
Gun advocates will point out and ridicule people for thinking that the “AR” stands for “assault rifle,” and assert that it does not fall into that category. But the fact is that the AR-15 was originally designed for the military, and the fully automatic version was actually used in Vietnam briefly. The manufacturer of the rifle couldn’t get them sold to the military, though, because the military already had the M-14.
The civilian version of the AR-15 is semi-automatic as opposed to fully automatic, but that difference can become negligible if a person customizes the weapon with bump stocks, (which recently became illegal at the federal level, with court challenges pending) that make the rifle mimic automatic fire.
So, the AR-15 can be called a “military-style” weapon. The fact remains that these rifles have characteristics, such as low recoil, light weight, fast rate of fire, and long range, which make them extremely deadly in the context of use in a mass shooting. I think these rifles can be treated the way we currently regulate machine guns (fully automatic,) which are legal but much harder to purchase and own.
Will it prevent every mass shooting? No, but it will make them harder to carry out, and can stop some of them. And just preventing one of these senseless tragedies is worth it.