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Politics Second Amendment

More Popular than Ever, the AR-15 Under Attack

by Chris Cox   |  March 3rd, 2012 9

Ask a gun control group which firearm it would most like to see banned, and—if it gave you an honest answer—it would probably tell you “the AR-15.” For propaganda purposes, these groups talk about “AK-47s,” just as they used to talk about “Saturday Night Specials” when they really wanted to ban all handguns. But behind the scenes they’re most worried about the incredibly versatile rifle introduced to the general public by Colt nearly a half century ago.

That’s because the AR-15’s popularity is soaring. About 1.5 million of the rifles have been made in the last five years alone, by manufacturers large and small. Firearm sales are at record levels, and AR-15s are a big reason why.

Gun control groups will tell any newspaper reporter who’ll listen that gun ownership is declining. But with AR-15s in their hands, many Americans who had little or no background with guns have become dedicated target shooters or hunters. More than any single firearm today, the “mouse gun” or “black rifle” is helping expand gun ownership and use.

As a trip to any rifle range in most parts of the country will show, centerfire and rimfire AR-15s are hugely popular for recreational target shooting. For more than a decade, .223 Rem. and 5.56mm NATO models have been the leading rifles in marksmanship competitions. And AR-15s are now made in a variety of other calibers, so they’re increasingly favored by hunters, a fact even the Brady Campaign has grudgingly admitted.

Like the Mauser ’98 before it, the AR-15 has become the platform of choice for customization. User-friendly and easily equipped with the owner’s choice of sights, stocks and accessories, AR-15s are arguably the rifle most commonly kept for home protection. A large number of marksmanship schools offer classes that focus on using the AR-15 for personal protection.

When the Supreme Court struck down D.C.’s handgun ban in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), it said that the Second Amendment protects firearms “in common use.” All of what I’ve said just goes to show that AR-15s fit that description—with room to spare.

Our opponents haven’t lost hope, though. One in eight Americans lives in California, where the AR-15 and many other types of firearms are prohibited under an ever-expanding “assault weapon” label.

It isn’t surprising that California has the most restrictive “assault weapon” ban in the country; California has the most gun control in general. Just to give you an idea, in the BATFE’s book of state and local gun laws, California takes up 70 pages, while the second most populous state, Texas, takes up just two.

California, after all, is a state that prohibits family members and friends from selling guns to one another without the transfer going through a dealer, with a $25 background check, a report of the transfer being filed with the state Department of Justice and local police chief or sheriff, and a 10-day waiting period.  So it should be no surprise that it also prohibits the sale of any detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifle that has a pistol grip or forward grip; flash suppressor; or thumbhole, folding, or telescoping stock.

The ban doesn’t stop there, as it also includes some centerfire fixed-magazine rifles; some pistols not already prohibited by the state’s “unsafe” handgun ban; semi-automatic shotguns in certain home defense configurations; and other types of firearms. Changes in the law and its related regulation have gone on for decades now, along with wrangling over confusing and hyper-technical interpretations by the California Department of Justice on issues such as what makes a magazine “detachable.”

All this should be taken seriously, even if you don’t live in California. Anti-gun groups and their allies in Congress consider California’s law a model for a new federal ban and for new or expanded bans in other states. After the Heller decision, the District of Columbia, spitefully imposing whatever restrictions it could get away with after its handgun ban was struck down, copied California’s ban.

Ultimately, these groups and politicians would like to build a political majority that could pass more California-style bans, then pack the courts with judges—from the Supreme Court down—who would uphold these and every other imaginable restriction.  Then, they could honestly say “As California goes, so goes the nation.”  Gun owners can only stop that from happening by registering—and voting—in November.

For more information on semi-auto bans, go to

  • doghouse riley

    The Ar 15 is too light for deer, bear or elk. There are plenty of bolt, lever, pump, double and single shot rifles in calibers
    more more useful to hunting. Every game animal deserves a one shot kill if possible or a well aimed follow up shot if not. Semiautomatic rifles built for hunting have magazines containing 3 to 5 rounds. Why mossberg built their synthetic stocked lever action with a flash hider on a 16 inch barrel is beyond me. To much muzzel blast. 20 inches is more like it . Also a 25-35 improved is a far better choice of caliber. Chrome the inside of the barrel and add 200 feet per second to the muzzel velocity. Anyway Ar 15's belong in the military and every male between the ages of 19 to 55 should be in the national guard. Hell, its part of you duty as an american and a man.
    I hear way to much talk about rights and nothing about duty, responsibility and obligation to your country and your fellow americans.

    • fishkiller

      and you should eat tofu because its the same as meat

    • Sig_Owner

      I totally agree about duty. I served and I think every American should. The only think that I don't agree with is that the military is overwhelmingly political and we are losing our men in wars motivated propagandized by political agendas and greed.

  • Max

    If AR-15 belong in the military…why most local PD patrol cars carry one in their trunk? are they perhaps out there trying to "kill and main a lot of people at once"? Police has to follow a lot of the same rules of engagement as a private citizen, when it comes to lethal force, with few caveats (e.g. no duty to retreat). AR-15 are not more dangerous that your garden variety handgun in the close quarters of most mass shootings, if that is the concern. The biggest mass shooting in the US was carried out with a 9 mm gun and a .22LR gun.

    The second amendment i also NOT about hunting, forgot your civics? only some state versions of 2A talk about hunting.

    And there are plenty of hunting rifles chambered in .223, ignoring that too? hell, you can take a deer with a .22LR, the favorite gun of poachers…

    but I agree on your statement about the national guard: for instance, take the Swiss, they all have a sig556 fully auto in their homes, with plenty of ammo available at their ranges (well above the 20-rd pack they are issued). I don't see democracy crumbling or people going nuts there.

  • Bob Swaim

    Who the hell needs a military type assault weapon for "self protection"? The "Second Amendment" clearly conditions the "right to bear arms" with the beginning phrase containing the words "…a WELL REGULATED militia…" None of these shooters are members of a "well regulated militia". Nobody is trying to ban the ownership of hunting rifles, shotguns or handguns for personal use. The NRA is all about protecting the ability of a huge industry to profit from gun ownership. As a result, it sounds to me like you're all living in fear, cowering behind your guns.

    • Yashmak

      The AR-15 is used for hunting. Did you miss that?

      More to the point, anyone who ever read Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson’s writings in the period leading up to the ratification of the 2nd knows full well that part of the intent was (in Thomas Jefferson’s own words) “. . .as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

  • justin nations

    ITS NOT AN ASSAULT WEAPON! it is a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine. anything can be used as a weapon. people die or get killed alot more by cars and blunt objects but you dont see people trying to ban or create laws against baseball bats and vehicles do you? no. yes the 2nd amendment say "a well regulated militia" but it says " THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED" we the people are the regulated militia. we the people, have the right to carry these weapons to protect our country from foreign and domestic terroristic threats and im sorry but i would rather have this supposed "assault weapon" in my hands over a bolt action or shotgun if that threat were to ever come.

    • James Allison

      Actually the National Guard is the regulated militia, not “we.”

  • john thomas

    Those 20 elementary children missed that can you tell them ther just hunting rifles.

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