Key Point: Gun owners are as vocal as gun control advocates, and this has become a single-voter issue. As long as that remains the case, and the AR-15 keeps selling, there is no chance lawmakers will change their minds about a potential ban.
Ban the AR-15?
Today there are many topics that can cause things to become a bit “heated” around the family dinner table, not to mention in the corridors of power at every level of government in the United States. From abortion to transgender rights to critical race theory, there are issues where it is hard to find any common ground.
Then there is the issue of gun control – supporters claim it is necessary to save lives and curb gun violence, while opponents maintain a stance that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to own and keep firearms, and that any gun control efforts will only impact the law-abiding.
Modern Sporting Rifle or Weapon of War?
At the center of the gun control debate is also the AR-15, where those who want restrictions label it a “weapon of war” that has no place in civilian hands. Supporters will counter that it is simply a modular platform that only externally resembles the firearms carried by today’s warfighters. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry’s trade association, describes the AR-15 as a “modern sporting rifle,” while even the Associated Press has suggested that the term “assault rifle” is too highly politicized.
For the record, the “AR” doesn’t mean “assault rifle,” but rather “ArmaLite Rifle” – after the company that originally designed the platform in the 1960s. However, the AR has been increasingly used by fans of the firearm and supporters of the Second Amendment who suggest it could rightfully stand for “America’s Rifle” due to its popularity.
“These rifles are used by hunters, competitors, millions of Americans seeking home-defense guns and many others who simply enjoy going to the range. The modular nature of the platform allows it to be configured for various applications and body types,” the NSSF explained.
The AR-15 in Mass Shootings
The AR-15 has become public enemy number one due to the fact that it has unfortunately become a platform used by a number of mass shooters in recent years. However, firearms enthusiasts will also point out that the popularity of the AR-15 platform is among the primary reasons why it is so prevalent in mass shootings.
In other words, the AR-15 is used in these tragic incidents because a lot have been sold; tens of millions in fact. By comparison, the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150 have not surprisingly been involved in the most fatal accidents in the United States for the same reasons – as those are two of the top-selling automobiles in the country.
The AR-15 Was Banned – Shootings Didn’t Really Stop
It is now doubtful that the AR-15 platform could actually be banned – although there was the controversial assault weapon ban (AWB) that was signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in the fall of 1994.
The law made it illegal to manufacture or sell certain semi-automatic rifles, including the AR-15, but it didn’t restrict the ownership of those already in civilian hands.
It remains questionable (and unlikely) that the ban was effective at reducing mass shootings or gun violence. In fact, the 1999 Atlanta day trading firm shooter tragically killed nine people while 13 others were injured and he did so without an AR-15.
Likewise, no AR-15 was used in the Columbine shooting that occurred in the same year.
The AWB expired in 2004, and that opened the market to a plethora of manufacturers. In the process, the AR-15 has become one of the most popular firearms platforms today as companies large and small manufacture not only the actual firearm but countless accessories. It is a huge business.
Though some states have sought to introduce legislation to ban the AR-15, such efforts have been met with lawsuits.
The same would most certainly occur at the federal level – while there is simply no support from lawmakers for a total prohibition on the AR-15.
Gun owners are as vocal as gun control advocates, and this has become a single-voter issue.
As long as that remains the case, and the AR-15 keeps selling, there is no chance lawmakers will change their minds about a potential ban.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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