The AR-15 Rifle: Myths Dispelled

The recent push by certain groups towards further regulations on gun ownership has been aided by a fervent media eager to capitalize on a tragic event. This often results in shoddy reporting and journalism by writers who seem to regard themselves as experts on firearms, when in reality the vast majority couldn’t tell an AR apart from an AK. The consequences are at best honest mistakes in gun terminology, and at worst deliberately misleading information on firearms intended to scare readers into developing inaccurate beliefs of firearms. This article hopes to offer honest, factual information that corrects the many myths and outright lies present in current news articles regarding firearms, particularly the AR family of rifles.

Myth: AR15’s are not widely owned by gun enthusiasts.

Facts: Gun control advocates and the media would like you to believe that AR’s are a firearm on the fringe of the gun community in the hopes of convincing people that it is a firearm that lacks acceptance even by gun owners. This is simply untrue. AR15’s are arguably the most popular civilian rifle of the 21st century. They are used for informal recreational target shooting and plinking, formal competition, hunting and home defense.

Their popularity stems from many factors that make them an attractive rifle; thorough testing and proven ability via 50 years of use by the military, widespread availability of parts and ability to customize an AR to the particular needs of each individual. One needs only step foot in any general gun shop (excluding specialty shops that cater to specific shooters) and they will likely see a particular wall or corner of the store devoted to AR’s and their parts/accessories/ammunition. These are not uncommon rifles.

Myth: The type of firearm used in shooting XYZ was an AR15 and they were banned during the 1994 Assault Weapons ban.

Facts: The AR15 has never been banned on a federal level. Certain features were banned, features that would have made zero difference whether or not they were present during some of the more recent shootings (see below).

Myth: AR15’s are assault weapons that have particularly deadly features.

Facts: It is first necessarily to point out that “assault weapon” is a term invented by those opposed to gun ownership to demonize certain firearms. “Assault weapon” sounds scarier than “AR15” or “modern sporting rifle”, right? It was never and is currently rarely referred to as such within the gun community, and few self respecting gun owners give such a derisive term any validity.

The features often criticized of AR’s do not make them any more dangerous. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban regulated features such as collapsible stocks (the ability to adjust the length of the buttstock for comfort), flash hiders (reducing the amount of flash at the muzzle when a round is fired) and pistol grips (holding the rifle via a grip that is more vertical than it is horizontal – again associated with comfort). Even those with no knowledge of firearms should realize these features pose no additional danger.

It is true that some AR15’s do contain a bayonet lug designed to attach a knife. However, such devices are widely considered obsolete, and this author is not aware of any recent mass shooting where a bayonet attached to a rifle has been used to injure or kill anyone.

Myth: AR15’s, Glocks and other pistols have “high capacity magazine clips” that hold too much ammunition and make the firearms excessively dangerous.

Facts: First, “magazine” and “clip” are two different pieces of equipment and the terms are not interchangeable, despite the media’s frequent misuse of the terms. There is no such thing as a “magazine clip”. A magazine is a unit into which rounds of ammunition are inserted. A clip is often a strip of metal on which rounds of ammunition are aligned and then pressed into a magazine, or pressed into the integrated magazine of a firearm (typically antique and vintage firearms used integrated, internal, non-detachable magazines).

Gun control proponents often cite a 10rd limit on magazine capacities as being standard. This is a flat-out lie. Take for example the Glock 22, a .40 caliber handgun popular with civilians and police. Its standard capacity is a 15rd magazine, as it was designed and intended to use a 15rd magazine which fits flush with the grip. A 10rd magazine would therefore be considered a reduced capacity magazine, not standard. Similarly, the AR15 was designed to utilize 20 and 30rd magazines, both of which are far off from a 10rd limit. In fact, a 10rd magazine barely protrudes from the magwell of an AR15, and often causes malfunctions. Likewise, the 100rd drums that gun control proponents often cite as responsible for carnage are actually responsible for the conclusion of some shootings, as they are known to be unreliable due to spring tension and thus responsible for malfunctions. The shooter in Aurora was stopped due to a malfunction caused by the drum he utilized.

Myth: AR15’s are dangerous automatic assault rifles that can fire 100’s of bullets.

Facts: Again, this is simply incorrect. The vast majority of AR15’s are semi-automatic, meaning they fire one round for each trigger pull. Fully-automatic firearms of any variety have been regulated on a federal level for civilians since 1934, and civilian possession of post-1986 examples is prohibited. This means that a registered, fully automatic AR15 lower receiver or drop-in auto sear ranges in price anywhere from $10-16,000. They are very rare and this author knows of no instance where one was ever used in the commission of a crime.

Following up on this point, an assault rifle is a military rifle which by nature is select fire (three round burst or fully automatic). As mentioned above, such devices are exceptionally rare and never used in crime.

Myth: AR15’s shoot high-powered ammo that is exceptionally dangerous.

Facts: Rifle calibers generally range from .22 to .50 cal. The AR15 shoots a .223 diameter bullet, one of the smallest bullets used by any rifle. In comparison, many muzzle loading rifles (400 year old technology) shoot a .50 caliber ball. Although many variables affect the potency of a round, size is one of the major factors. So while the AR15 utilizes an effective round, on a scale containing all military rifle rounds from the past 100 years the .223 would be near the bottom in terms of “power”. For example, grandpa’s .30-06 deer hunting rifle would do far more damage to a human than a modern .223 AR15 would.

This article was written by By Marcus Dilloff and posted by Attorney Cohen.