After explaining the long history of the AR-15, Peter Suciu asks readers of Spectator World to “Imagine the precedent of banning things every time they are misused.” Suciu also scuttles any attempt to equate AR-15s to “weapons of war.” He writes:
After the Second World War, due to the huge number of surplus firearms, there was a market for so-called “sporterized” rifles, which literally transformed what had been carried by soldiers into civilian rifles. That’s why any talk of “weapons of war” is misleading; those lines have long been blurred.
In fact, throughout much of the history of the United States, military rifles and civilian rifles were largely one and the same. Colt, Winchester, Sharps, and so on all sought military contracts while offering their products to civilians. In contrast to President Biden’s claims that there were always weapons civilians couldn’t buy — including cannons — that was not true. Civilians could and did buy the same guns as the military. That only changed with the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), which placed restrictions on certain weapons, including machine guns. But the law never technically “banned” them. That is an important fact to consider, since it wasn’t until the passage of the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) in 1986 that the production of new machine guns was banned.
Therefore, even today, residents in some thirty-seven states can still go through a complex background check process to legally purchase/transfer a machine gun (provided it was manufactured prior to FOPA) and other NFA weapons (such as suppressors, otherwise known as “silencers”).
All of this is necessary to understand, because what Colt did in the 1960s was offer a civilian model of the AR-15 to consumers. Yet it differed from the military’s M-16 in a crucial feature. The M-16 was designed to offer select fire. Originally, this included a fully automatic mode, which meant it would fire as long as the trigger was pulled. Later, due to accuracy issues, it was switched to a “three-round burst,” in which three rounds fire with each trigger pull. It also offered a semi-automatic mode, where one pull of the trigger fired a single shot.
The AR-15 only offers the semi-automatic option; it is therefore not a fully automatic weapon and shouldn’t be seen as comparable to a “machine gun.” Yet some, including General Eaton, have suggested that there is little difference between the M-16 and AR-15. Few soldiers would want to head into close-quarters combat limited to single-fire shots when the enemy has full-auto or burst fire capabilities.
Today there are calls to ban the AR-15 because it has been used in a few high-profile incidents. If shootings continue with other firearms, then advocates will simply suggest those guns should be banned as well. Imagine the precedent of banning things every time they are misused.
More than 22.8 million AR-15s have been sold in America to date. This fact needs to be put in perspective, as only a mere fraction of the millions in private ownership have ever been used for nefarious purposes. That is akin to calling for a ban on all automobiles because of drunk drivers, or suggesting that because of the rare plane crash, air travel is somehow unsafe and should be stopped.
Evil people will always find a way to do bad things, but banning a product used safely by tens of millions hardly seems to be the way to stop them.
If you’re willing to fight for Main Street America, click here to sign up for my free weekly email.