While Senate Democrats relentlessly push a ban on “assault weapons,” they face a rank and file resistance that rests on the fact that the AR-15 is “America’s rifle.”
Former U.S. Marine Eugene Stoner designed the AR-15 in the 1950s. A full-auto version of the rifle–dubbed the M16–was adapted for military service during the Vietnam War. Then, in the 1980s, a semiautomatic AR-15 for civilians was widely produced.
The rifle grew in popularity, going from a cult following in early civilian production to the widespread, near-familial loyalty the rifle inspires today. This change occurred as the rifle went from being made by a handful of manufacturers in the 1980s to being made by nearly every major gun manufacturer in the 21st century. And the love for the AR-15 is not limited to older generations. On November 20, 2017, Breitbart News reported that millennials offer the most opposition to the Democrat push for an “assault weapons” ban.
The rifle that began with Stoner’s design spawned an automatic variant used in Vietnam, and then came to dominate the semiautomatic market in U.S. gun stores. It is now beloved for target shooting, hunting, and self-defense. It is a reliable weapon and one with which gun owners can quickly become familiar. And like the renowned and timeless 1911 handgun, a thriving aftermarket of accessories and parts are available for AR-15 rifles.
NBC News sums up these things by describing the AR-15 as “America’s Rifle.” It is so popular that “one of out of every five firearms purchased in this country is an AR-style rifle.”
Twenty-three-year-old Evan Daire works a gun range in New Jersey. He spoke about the AR-15, saying, “It’s kind of the standard, de-facto rifle now. No matter what role you’re looking at, it pretty much fills that role.”
Nevertheless, Democrats and their gun control surrogates in the establishment media seize on the fact that an AR-15–or AR variant–was used by attackers at the Aurora movie theater, Sandy Hook Elementary, San Bernardino, California, Orlando Pulse, and Sutherland Springs church attack. Those who cite these attacks overlook the fact that the attacks do far more to undermine gun control than to bolster arguments for it.
For example, the Aurora movie theater, Sandy Hook Elementary, the San Bernardino County Building, and Orlando Pulse were all gun-free zones. This means law-abiding citizens were defenseless regardless of the kind of firearm used by the attacker. And in the case of Sutherland Springs, no one in the small, neighborhood church was armed when Devin Kelley opened fire on November 5, 2017. Again, this means that Kelley had the upper hand regardless of what type of weapon he used. All these attacks bolster arguments for being sure law-abiding citizens are armed to shoot back.
American gun owners understand these things, which is why the Democrats’ ongoing push to ban AR-15s has failed to gain traction. In fact, every time a gun controller pushes an “assault weapons” ban, one of the millions upon millions of AR-15 owners can point to the way he legally uses his AR to hunt, target shoot, or defend his life and home.
The AR-15 really is “America’s rifle.”
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at [email protected] Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.