The Reality of ‘Assault Weapons’ is Far Too Boring and Inconvenient for the Media


Image by Boch

By Rob Morse

We’re hearing a lot of claims and counter-claims about modern sporting rifles right now. While these “modern” guns are more than half a century old, honest gun owners still buy and use them every day. Occasionally, criminals use them as well, but that’s rare. About one-out-of-eight gun owners have a modern sporting rifle today. And as we’d expect, rifles are used in armed defense situations about an eighth of the time.

Semi-automatic, magazine-fed rifles were introduced to the civilian market here in the US in 1905. The US military adopted them about three decades later for use in World War II.

The civilian version of the modern sporting rifle, the AR-15, was introduced in 1956 so it has been with us for over six decades. In addition to its low recoil and plastic stock, the AR platform’s real innovation is its modularity. The AR can be adjusted to fit people of almost any stature in seconds, which is why it’s so popular. It’s the gateway rifle, the volksgun. I think that is why the democrats want it banned.

Here are two recent news stories that involve the use of a modern sporting rifle . . .

Homeowner with an AR stops two home invaders

It was mid-morning when a homeowner in Brownsboro, Texas heard the sounds of breaking glass coming from inside his home. The homeowner grabbed his AR rifle and went to see what was happening. The homeowner saw two strangers in his house. The defender told the intruders not to move. The second intruder, a female accomplice, ran away. The defender let her go and called 911.

Police arrested the male intruder. The homeowner pointed out the broken glass near his front door. Police arrested and searched the neighborhood for the second robber.

The defender was not charged with a crime.

The homeowner never pulled the trigger  as he defended himself. That’s the usual outcome and happens in over 80 percent of defensive gun uses. There are exceptions, of course.

Woman with concealed carry license stops felon with an AR

A woman with a concealed carry permit was attending a graduation/birthday party at an apartment complex in Charleston, West Virginia. The party had spilled out into the parking lot with about 40 people at the celebration. At about 10 at night, a man drove through the parking lot and people shouted for him to slow down.

The driver took offense and came back a half hour later. He climbed into the back seat of his car and started shooting at the crowd with an AR rifle. The woman shot back several times, stopping the attacker in what would have been a mass shooting. No one else was injured.

She called 911 and remained at the scene. Emergency medical services declared the shooter dead from multiple gunshot wounds. The attacker was a convicted felon with a long criminal record. Police are investigating how he got his firearm.

Gun control laws don’t stop criminals from acquiring and using guns. They never have. But there is more we can learn from these two news accounts. AR rifles don’t turn honest homeowners into enraged murderers and they don’t make criminals into unstoppable killers. Modern sporting rifles are actually mundane. And as we’d expect, our neighbors only use lethal force as a last resort.

The reality is, however, that honest reporting about ordinary citizens defending themselves doesn’t make much money for the mainstream news media. They find it more clickworthy to say that a particular piece of steel, plastic and aluminum is horribly frightening and unusually deadly. Apparently that’s the only thing that keeps us watching through the commercials.


This article originally appeared at Slow Facts and is reprinted here with permission. 

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