President Biden told reporters over Thanksgiving that he would use the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress to do something he has wanted to do for decades.
He wants to ban what he routinely calls “assault weapons,” a term that includes virtually all other semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns. Reasonable heads may try to walk back some of his distortions, but Mr. Biden’s misguided statements were all-encompassing: “The idea that we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick. It’s just sick. It has no, no socially redeeming value. Zero. None. Not a single solitary rationale for it except profits for the gun manufacturers.”
What Mr. Biden has pledged to ban is the semi-automatic AR-15 and its various cousins, which he and his fellow gun restrictionists like to refer to as “assault weapons” and “weapons of war.”
The term “assault weapon” was actually invented by anti-gun activists in 1989 when a lobbyist for the Violence Policy Center (VPC) cynically urged his colleagues to forget about handguns and instead go after the AR-15 because “the weapon’s menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semiautomatic assault weapons — anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun — can only increase the chance of public support.” But now, a new book is out that guts the anti-gun disinformation game.
Authored by Stephen P. Halbrook, “American Rifle: The Case for the AR-15” shatters the anti-gun deception with documented facts. The simple truth is that the AR-15 is not a so-called military weapon.
The initials stand for Armalite rifle after the company that developed it, rather than “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle,” as some try to falsely claim. Colt produced the AR-15 for civilian, not military, use beginning in 1964. It employs the same semi-automatic technology that was developed over a century ago by firearms legend John Browning and Remington, which introduced the first semi-automatic sporting rifle in 1906.
The fact that there is no distinguishable operational difference between the AR-15 and other semi-automatic sporting rifles and shotguns has forced anti-gun legislators (who want to ban it) to attempt to ban long lists of guns they don’t like because of the way they look. The AR-15 is not and never has been a machine gun. It has been targeted by anti-gun activists, not because it is newer or more efficient than previous semi-automatic sporting arms, but because of its lightweight black plastic stock. It only resembles the fully automatic machine gun known as the AR-16 (M-16) adopted first by the Air Force and later by other services.
In fact, they are very different guns. And while people who want to ban guns demonize the AR-15 because they think uninvolved and unknowing Americans will share their distaste for the way it looks, the market has demonstrated that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Since the AR platform was developed for civilians and made available to the public in 1964, it has developed into the most popular long arm in the United States. It is manufactured by scores of companies, can be easily customized, is easy to use, is relatively inexpensive and quite accurate.
Hunters, competitive shooters, home defense aficionados and weekend plinkers have bought more than 40 million AR-15s. In the effort to demonize the AR-15, anti-gun activists have knowingly mischaracterized its capabilities and even its DNA. They have knowingly engaged in a dishonest effort to vilify the AR-15 in a blatant attempt to ban it.
But Mr. Halbrook explodes their myth with documented facts in his timely book, “America’s Rifle: The Case for the AR-15.” As a strong constitutionalist and Second Amendment supporter, I have had to contend with these mischaracterizations and deceptions for decades and sincerely welcome his examination of the origins and history of the AR-15.
Mr. Halbrook is one of America’s top experts on gun history and law, not only in this country but around the world. Anyone involved in or following the seemingly endless arguments over the AR-15 or “gun control” in general should want to read his book to discover the truth.
• Marion P. Hammer served as the first female president of the National Rifle Association and for over 40 years has lobbied to protect Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.
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AMERICAN RIFLE: The Case for the AR-15
By Steve Halbrook
November 1, 2022