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The Villages
Thursday, April 22, 2021

Should the AR-15 be banned?

David Dallas

With the change to a more liberal administration in the White House, gun control is once again up for debate. In the wake of recent shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, calls for banning the much maligned AR-15 have been renewed with increased fervor. Should we ban the AR-15 rifle?

First some background information:

The Second Amendment provides U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. Ratified in December 1791, the amendment says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” and in the District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that the Second Amendment includes the right of individuals to bear arms for self-defense. In 2010 McDonald v. City of Chicago extended the prior ruling from federal laws to state and local laws.

Before I can make any argument regarding what is commonly known as an “Assault Rifle”, we have to understand some basic but absolutely important definitions. These terms are too often misused in making a point for increased firearm legislation and are false and misleading.

What is an “Assault Rifle”?

Merriam Webster defines an “Assault Rifle” as a military firearm that is chambered for ammunition of reduced size or propellant charge and that has the capacity to switch between semi-automatic and fully automatic fire. In some models of assault rifles, fully automatic fire can be substituted for one-shot or three-shot burst fire by flicking a select-fire switch on the weapon. No rifle legally available for civilians has these capabilities.

What is a “Military Grade Weapon”?

National Technical Systems (NTS) operates comprehensive engineering and testing laboratories serving the Aerospace, Nuclear, Defense and Commercial hardware industries. According to NTS, there is no such thing as an official “Military Grade Weapon” but the term is commonly used in the media and by politicians to describe civilian semi-automatic rifles accessorized to look like military weapons. The U.S. military does have MIL-STD (military standard) & MIL-SPEC (military specifications) documents that specify the battery of tests that a weapon has to pass in order to be accepted for military use. There is no weapon that is available and is legal for the public to own that is even close to being on par with a rifle used by our military forces or could meet the MIL-STD.

Just consider the actual price of a true assault rifle that meets the MIL-STD versus a civilian AR-15. The Army Times reports that the Army is paying $9,000 each for 4,000 new rifles to replace their current M4 & M249 assault weapons. Contrast that price with that of an AR-15 which can be less than $500. You do NOT get a rifle that meets the MIL-STD for $500!

What is an AR-15 rifle?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, is committed to promoting genuine firearm safety & provides a comprehensive definitive description of the AR-15. The “AR” in “AR-15” rifle stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s. “AR” does NOT stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” The proper term is “MSR” or “Modern Sporting Rifle”.

“Modern Sporting Rifles” are chambered in .22 LR, .223 (5.56 x 45mm), 6.8 SPC, .308, and in many other calibers. AR-15 style rifles are no more powerful than other semi-automatic rifles of the same caliber and are less powerful than common big-game hunting cartridges like the .30-06, .308, and .300 Win. Mag.

“You don’t use an AR-15 for hunting” is a statement made by a number of politicians. Not true! The AR-15 is used by many hunters for fox, coyotes, varmints, etc. A “MSR” in .308 caliber (known as an AR-10) is ideal for deer, bear, moose, wild hogs, etc. Semi-automatic rifles have been in civilian use since Winchester introduced them in 1903 and are legal for hunting in all but 2 states.

In summary, An AR-15 is not an assault rifle, is not military grade, and is not capable of automatic machine-gun type fire. It is used for target shooting, competitions, and hunting. It is in reality a basic semi-automatic rifle that has been accessorized and resembles a military weapon in appearance ONLY…not in function!

No law will ever stop a person determined to do harm. Guns will always be available either legally or on the black market. Posting “Gun Free Zone” signs will never deter a criminal. 99.9+% of the legal firearm owning public are peaceful law-abiding citizens.

The 2nd Amendment guarantees us the right to bear arms for self defense and as a deterrent to an oppressive government and their standing army. In the 2008 landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court declared that the Second Amendment was an individual right and protected weapons “in common use by law-abiding citizens.” The AR-15 whose mechanism functions like any other semi-automatic weapon, clearly meets that criteria and should NOT be banned.

It is appalling that a few deranged individuals have besmirched the reputation of millions of conscientious, law-abiding gun owners. I welcome a discussion on the problems of firearm deaths but please do some research, use the proper terminology, and know what you are talking about! I will follow up with some changes that if implemented and enforced would prevent many of these horrendous acts of violence involving the use of a firearm.

David Dallas is a resident of the Village of Bradford.

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