The New York Times says that after last week’s horrific shooting attack on two mosques, New Zealand is having “its gun-debate moment.” And of course, since New Zealand is having a gun-debate moment (despite already having stringent gun control laws), the U.S. anti-gun crowd has to jump in too, once again spreading disinformation about anti-gun activists’ favorite boogeyman: the AR-15.
Every time a semi-automatic rifle with modern-looking aesthetics is used by a bad person to do evil, anti-gun politicians and pundits flood the zone with misinformation and misleading talking points. Sunday night, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough jumped into the fray with a misleading historic take on why the AR-15 modern sporting rifle (MSR) platform is supposedly a battlefield weapon that shouldn’t be protected by the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment cases.
Those suggesting the AR-15 was NOT developed as a weapon of war should read up on history. The AR-15 was developed as a military weapon to replace the M-14. Eugene Stoner designed it to be lighter and more lethal than the M-14.
It was far deadlier than the M-16 used in Vietnam.
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) March 18, 2019
And 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Robert O’Rourke said something similar over the weekend, calling the AR-15 a “weapon of war.”
Beto O'Rourke: "If you own an AR-15, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly and safely. I just don't think that we need to sell anymore weapons of war into this public." pic.twitter.com/uqMA1jWOTf
— The Hill (@thehill) March 17, 2019
So let’s clear up a few facts:
Furthermore, people who like to point out that MSRs are popular with shooters need to realize that that’s probably because MSRs are just popular in general. The design is light, low-recoil, and – because of its modular design – easily customizable. That means that no matter how your body is configured or what your specific needs are, you can typically find a way shoot comfortably. Those are features that all kinds of shooters, from target shooters to farmers and hunters, find useful.
But saying such features themselves somehow make it easier for evil people to shoot up innocents is like saying that a popular model of motor vehicle should be banned because the seat-warmers, adjustable steering column, and extra cup holders make it more popular among drunk drivers.
The fact that so many prominent anti-gun people think that the modern sporting rifle available to civilian purchasers today is a weapon that is used or even proposed for use in combat just shows how little they understand about guns. And if you’re going to try to ban something or criminalize people’s legally purchased property, you’d better at least have your facts straight about it.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article said that the 5.56 cartridge is “bigger” than the .223 rather than “higher-pressure.” It has been edited for clarity. The earlier version also said that at 5.56 cartridge “has more powder behind the bullet.” It has been corrected to “can have more powder behind the bullet, though not always.” CR regrets the error.