Sadly, so called “assault rifles” are getting a lot of negative press lately and are being subjected to a great deal of misinformation. This is not just coming from the usual anti-gun crowd, whom one would expect to lack knowledge about firearms and how they function, but also from supposedly knowledgeable gun owners and hunters, some of whom favor “reasonable” controls on firearms freedoms. Here are a few of the fallacies.
Why do you need that?
I need an AR primarily for self defense. Could I use another gun for self defense? Of course I could and the AR may not be the best firearm to use in all defensive situations. I could use a shotgun or a pistol, I could use a baseball bat or a knife, I could use a tennis racket, a golf club, my bare hands, or I could just try playing possum.
It is not a question of what I use to defend myself but my right and desire to have the best possible tool for the job at my disposal. I want a semi-automatic rifle with an adequate capacity magazine for the same reason the police want them; to be able to quickly and accurately engage multiple assailants should the need arise.
The caliber is too weak to use for hunting.
The AR is traditionally chambered in the 5.56x45mm NATO (interchangeable with the .223 Remington caliber) cartridge. The U.S. Military has been using this round as their primary rifle caliber for 50 years, through many wars and other interventions. If it was not effective we would not still have it. As with any firearm, the weight and type of bullet can be easily changed to deliver better performance and while not all loadings may be ideal for hunting, many are used on deer, feral hogs, coyote, and other game animals.
That does not even include the fact that the AR is the single most versatile rifle available. It can be converted to a muzzle loader for black powder, a crossbow for archery hunting, an air rifle, and can be adapted to fire over a dozen different rifle and pistol calibers. The design makes it easy to install optics and scopes, the collapsible stock allows the length to be adjusted so different statured shooters can comfortably use the same rifle. All of these features are why it is so popular.
It is not suitable for home defense.
Some have argued that a 5.56mm AR is bad for home defense because the round will over penetrate and pass through walls, endangering other occupants or neighbors. Tell that to police SWAT team that are increasingly switching from 9mm (pistol caliber) sub-machineguns to 5.56mm ARs exactly because they over penetrate less than the 9mm especially with proper ammunition selection. If over penetration is a serious concern then use a shotgun with bird shot. At close ranges this can be extremely effective. Others argue that a long gun is too unwieldy for home defense and going around corners. Ironically a shotgun has long been considered an ideal home defense firearm, not to mention that “hunting down” home intruders is not really advisable anyways. Better to barricade yourself and call the police.
These guns are too dangerous for people to own.
Ignoring the fact that semi-automatic rifles are used to commit only a tiny fraction of all gun crimes and that gun crimes overall have been declining for the past 20 years, the AR and other similar rifles are no more dangerous than any other firearm. The AR is semi-automatic and fires once each time the trigger is depressed, like a double-action revolver, or any pistol, or many other rifles and shotguns.
If you believe that the AR is too dangerous to own then there is no rational limit to what firearms you will find too dangerous next. Politicians have attacked firearms as too dangerous because they are too small and easy to conceal, too cheap and easy for poor people to buy, too accurate and usable and sniper weapons, too powerful and usable against vehicles. The list of “too dangerous” can easily be expanded to cover most any firearm and making every firearm “too dangerous” is exactly the real agenda.
Jorge Amselle is a certified firearms instructor and writer covering all aspects of the industry from military and law enforcement firearms and training to the shooting sports. His youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/amselle.