The new propaganda theme among the tabloids is that the AR-15 has become the weapon of choice for terrorists and mass shooters.  Is this just more mindless gun hating foolishness or is there something to this? It turns out that the terrorist in question actually used a Sig MCX, but the facts never keep the press from a good propaganda theme.

The reason the anti-gun forces hate the AR is its popularity, there are between 4 and 8 million of them legally owned in the United States. It is widely owned by civilians and thus available to terrorists, the mentally ill and criminals.

There have been several recent shootings and some not so recent shootings using “Assault Style Weapons”.  Tabloid journalism loves writing about “Assault Style Weapons” and the 1996 Assault Weapons Ban.  This term truthfully reveals the problem, these guns don’t function like assault weapons, but they have a style similar to military weapons.  They look much more dangerous than large caliber hunting rifles which are actually more powerful.

The term “assault rifle” was a propaganda term coined by Hitler himself to describe the Nazi’s then new machine gun which fired a small low recoil round allowing soldiers to control full auto fire. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership in the United States since 1934.

In recent terror attacks in France, the murders used the AK-47, a real assault rifle fashioned after Hitler’s original model.  Since fire arms ownership is highly restricted in Europe, the terrorists illegally bought machine guns on the world market and smuggled them into France. The AK-47 is the most widely spread weapon in the world, with 100 million Kalashnikov rifles currently in use. According to Oxford University economist Phillip Killicoat, the average global price of the assault rifle was estimated at $534 in 2005.  

The state of California has over a dozen overlapping ‘assault weapons’ laws creating a situation where the only people who know the laws are the poor citizens trying to obey them. has made a flow chart to help the law abiding keep track. The San Bernadino murders used AR type rifles purchased in California, the state with the most ridiculous restrictions in the United States.  The murders illegally modified their guns in violation of California gun laws, then killed people which also violates California law. The California legislature has drafted a dozen new ineffective laws which will make most rifles in the state illegal.  These new laws will be no more effective than the current laws broken by the San Bernadino murders.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), has coined a more accurate term for AR-15s and similar rifles, “Modern Sporting Rifles”.  Modern sporting rifles are very popular because they are fun to shoot and there are a number of sports which use these intermediate caliber rifles.

The reason why AR-15 rifles are turning up at mass shootings is that they the most popular firearms in America. Versions of modern sporting rifles are legal to own in all 50 states, provided the purchaser passes the mandatory FBI background check required for all retail firearm purchasers. The NSSF estimates that there there are an estimated 100 million lawfully owned rifles of all types in the United States and that 20-30 million of these are modern sporting rifles. Of these, between 4-8 million AR-15s (and variants). More than 40 manufacturers make variants of the AR-15 because the patents are expired and any company can build an AR-15. Colt owns the AR-15 trademark, other manufacturers have their own trademarks for their versions.