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.

Before the 1996 Assault Weapons Ban, modern sporting rifles were not as common.  The ban had the perverse effect of raising awareness of these versatile firearms. The constant assault on the rights of common citizens attempting to protect themselves and their families by politicians protected by armed guards has generated great interest in modern sporting rifles. The common use of rifles by law enforcement on American streets has also helped their acceptance.

Why do people buy so many AR-15s?  There are 22 million veterans in the United States, most of whom were trained to shoot the the M16 or M4.  There are millions of former police officers who used the M-16 or AR-15 on duty. These men and women have introduced the AR to millions of others. The AR-15 is styled like the guns they carried and often bonded with.  Since owning an M-16 is very difficult and expensive, the AR provides veterans with a familiar feel. The AR-15 was never a military weapon, Armalite produced the AR-15 for civilians.  Colt bought the patent and later created the M16 (based on the AR-15) to sell the to military.

If banning rifles would stop terror attacks, I would be the first in line to give mine up.  The truth is that no amount of regulation or law will stop the lawless.  Terrorist cells operate internationally and have no difficulty bringing weapons across borders.  The insane who wish to murder other humans use swords or any other weapon at hand if rifles are not available.

In another significant mass killing, between April and July 1994, members of the Hutu ethnic majority in Rwanda murdered 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority, using machetes.  If the Tutsi’s had had a few AR-15s things would have been different. The Hutu were not slowed by legal restrictions of firearms ownership or murder.

I grow weary of the predictable distortions and lies which come after each murder that fits the narrative.  Black lives in Chicago are lost in much higher numbers than all mass shootings nation wide, but they don’t rate tabloid ink because they don’t fit the assault rifle narrative. Let’s deal with reality and human behavior.  Attempts to restrict technology have never worked. New 3D printing technology is on the verge of making all gun control obsolete because anyone with internet access and a 3D printer can become a gun manufacturer.

The Sig MCX is frightening in its blackness and military appearance.  It is allegedly linked to Special Forces and has a made up nick name, the “black mamba’.  It is, in reality, just another self loading rifle, shooting one round at a time.

Let’s do something different and have an honest discussion about mass killers, the insane and the terrorist.  There are effective things we can do.  Unilateral disarmament is not one of them.

This article was originally published on the The Arms Guide and was written by Mark Miller

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