Is The Ar-15 A ‘Modern Sporting Rifle?’ Like I’m Voting For Donald Trump.

              Back in October the FBI released their crime report for 2018 which showed that violent crime not only fell another 4% from the previous year, but dropped 14.6% over the last decade. Immediately the hot-air balloon for the gun industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) issued a press release contrasting this trend with the continued strong sale of assault rifles, the obvious conclusion being that guns protect us from crime.

              So the gun industry is finally admitting to something that they have been trying to deny for years, namely, that the so-called ‘modern sporting rifle’ is nothing more than a marketing scam to pretend that a gun that was designed for military and tactical purposes is just another good, old hunting gun. And how could anyone feel that any kind of hunting gun shouldn’t be protected by the 2nd Amendment, right?

              The fact is that the AR is advertised and sold as a ‘self-defense’ gun.  Now maybe companies like Bushmaster and Smith & Wesson are thinking of AR-owners as using their ‘black’ guns to defend themselves against an invasion from Iran, Iraq or from outer space. But let’s not quibble over technicalities; anyone who thinks that a bottom-loading gun which can discharge 100 rounds of military-grade ammunition in 4 minutes or less is a ‘sporting’ weapon has about as much of a grasp on reality as someone who believes that Rudy Giuliani is in love with the American way of life.

              When I first started writing about guns back in 2012, the most vicious and angry comments I received from Gun-nut Nation was whenever I stated that the AR-15 was a military gun. ‘How can you call this a military gun when the Army uses guns that are full-auto and this gun is just another semi-automatic gun?’  That was one of the more polite comments I used to receive.

              In fact, the current battle weapon carried by our troops, the M-4 carbine, can be set to fire in semi-auto mode or 3-shot burst. And I have yet to receive an answer from any of the Gun-nut Nation hot-air balloons when I ask them to explain how, if he sets the gun to fire once time every time the trigger is pulled, a soldier can go into battle with a modern sporting rifle.

              Which brings us back to the claim made by the NSSF that the decline in violent crime has something to do with the continued popularity and sales of the AR-15. Except this drop in violent crime happens to have occurred at the same time that the homicide rate has gone up.  Meanwhile, the percentage of murders committed with guns (72%) has remained constant over the last several years.

              In fact, guns have been the weapon of choice for people who kill other people for a century, if not more. According to Brearley’s study of homicide, data from the U.S. Division of Vital Statistics, of the 63,906 murders committed between 1920 through 1926, 45,666 were committed with firearms, which just happens to be 72%. Of course in 1920 the national population stood at 106 million, which means the homicide rate was, on average, around 10 percent. In 2017 the CDC says that the U.S. homicide rate was around 6 per hundred thou.  

              On the other hand, in both 1981 and 1991 the overall homicide rate was above 10 and in both years, guns figured in roughly 70% of all homicidal events. Up, down, no matter which way the murder rate goes, each year the number of people who kill someone else without using a gun stays more or less the same. And guess what? The U.S. murder rate which doesn’t have anything to do with guns is also higher than what happens in other advanced nation-states.

              The bottom line is that talking about gun violence as uniquely American may obscure the fact that America is an exceptionally-violent country with or without guns. Anyone have an answer for that one?


17 thoughts on “Is The Ar-15 A ‘Modern Sporting Rifle?’ Like I’m Voting For Donald Trump.

  1. No doubt its a military design. Was designed to be one, as was the AK series.

    Thing is, the bright line with severe rifle restriction has always been full auto. We were always able to buy military rifles, whether they were Krags, Springfields, Mausers, Enfields, or Garands with en bloc clips and M-1 carbines with bottom loading magazines. What has evolved is military technology. So I get it as far as some wanting to draw a risk mitigating line in the sand as far as new technology, e.g.,modern bottom loading semiautos, but its a new and blurry line in the sand (do we round up M1 carbines, too?) and is being pushed about half a century too late. And, the Constitution doesn’t say a peep about hunting or trap shooting–hunting can be banned or heavily regulated without a peep out of the Constitution. 2A says “arms”, a military term. As Garry Wills once put it, “you don’t bear arms against a rabbit”.

    Of course most shootings involve handguns, but yeah, sure…

    I’m happy with a neutral third party requiring me to jump through a few hoops to demonstrate I can be trusted with whatever is in my gun safe as long as the process is fair, universal, and does not exclude people of modest means. All previous incarnations of Supreme Courts have made clear this is eminently Constitutional. Mind you, that neutral third party won’t be the likes of Beto O’Rourke, Brady, Giffords, or Everytown. I think a “common sense” reform, to use a worn out and politically poisoned phrase, would be to figure out what the bona fides should be for a screening panel for pistol and AR permits.

  2. NPR story this morning about the stark contrast in Albany, NY between black/latino and white neighborhoods in terms of violence and resources. Add guns and stir briskly. We want to know why the US is a violent nation? Walk through a city and figure out where the violence is.

    • I’m not an expert on this, but I think military grade ammo is full-metal jacket or any other type that meets the current rules of war.
      The first attempt to cull excessively dangerous ammo in war was 1896, or thereabouts.

      • Thing is, Military grade ammo was indeed FMJ. Some include stuff that can penetrate a helmet at 500 yds or whatever. But not being an expert either, wasn’t the military ammo definition in large part meant to exclude the types of bullets that are typically used in hunting, e.g., hollowpoints and the like, per the 1899 Hague Convention? Now, suddenly, military grade ammo is evil when it was designed to be more humane (a strange concept) on the battlefield?

      • “Military Grade Ammo” is a term just like “Modern Sporting Rifle” or “Assault Weapon”, it’s a made up term with no true definition designed intentionally to manipulate the emotions of the audience.

        The first shot fired was from Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center (back in the 90s when that meant something)

        “Assault weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully-automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons –anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun– can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.”

        “Assault Weapon” not only has the word “Assault” in it, but it sounds like “Assault Rifle” which is a totally different thing.

        Of course the gun industry knew this, and decided what’s good for the goose, was good for the gander, and the fact that anti-gun activists get upset by “Modern Sporting Rifle” but NOT by “Assault Weapon” simply shows a double standard.

        And then there’s “Military Grade Ammo” which honestly anybody using that should be ashamed, especially if you know which side of a cartridge is the head.

      • The fact is words do matter. The best wordsmith on the issue of guns and gun violence is Wayne LaPierre and his fellow gangsters and Ackerman-McQueen
        Assault weapon, assault-style weapon, military grade ammo are terms that have meaning. Military experts understand that.

      • From Larry Davis, retired infantry officer, via Quora.

        “Military Grade” or “MilSpec” is largely marketing, but there is a difference between ammunition intended for military use versus ammunition for the civilian market.

        First, all military ammunition is ball (full metal jacket). There are certain international agreements in place which govern this. Civilian ammo, on the other hand, can be almost any configuration, from soft point to to FMJ to composite to hollow point. Civilian ammo is designed to expand upon impact; military ammo does not expand. Civilian ammo designs are intended to generate large wound channels and transmit devastating terminal force to the target, normally as in hunting – one round, one kill – but also in self-defense ammo where the goal is to stop the threat as quickly as possible. Military ammo, since it doesn’t expand, does not create the same kinds of wounds, and has been known to pass straight through with little terminal damage. One way to think about the military use of FMJ vs. other rounds is that wounded soldiers place a heavier demand on support elements than dead ones do; if you can wound enough of the other side to render them combat ineffective, then you have been successful. Not a completely accurate analogy, but close enough.
        Second, military ammunition normally has a moisture sealant applied; civilian ammo does not. Given the environments in which the military operates, and the sometimes long periods of storage ammunition undergoes, it is imperative that military ammunition does not absorb moisture. Civilian ammunition is seldom exposed to the same harsh environments for extended periods and seldom is stored for decades as military ammo can be.
        Third, as several have pointed out, military ammunition uses harder primers than civilian. This helps to prevent accidental discharge and the occasional “runaway” gun (gets stuck in auto fire mode and takes quick response from the individual soldier to stop it).
        Fourth, also as pointed out, there is a difference in chamber pressures, although it varies from caliber to caliber. For example, the 7.62 X 51mm NATO round is essentially the same as the Winchester .308, but the pressures of the NATO round are not as high as the .308 round. Thus, you normally can load and fire 7.62 NATO safely in a rifle chambered for .308. Conversely, the 5.56 X 45mm NATO round has higher pressures than its .223 caliber civilian counterpart. So, you have to be careful. Some rifles chambered for the .223 round are pressure tested for the 5.56 round, but not all. Check your particular firearm for markings.
        Fifth, military ammo is allowed some dimensional variations; civilian ammo is pretty darn consistent. Military ammo has certain design specification (just like civilian ammo), but it is allowed to be just a little longer or a little shorter than the specs. This allows for variations in the chamber dimensions of weapons, both due to manufacturing and hard use. For the military, every round has to feed and fire; thus looser tolerances in chambers and ammunition. Military ammo cases generally have thicker walls also because of the higher pressures; this can be a problem when using them in civilian firearms. Civilian firearms are chambered to greater tolerances; thus the ammunition is made to more exacting standards. That doesn’t mean that you won’t find some civilian ammo that fails to feed in your particular firearm; it still happens. But it won’t happen often. When it does, you probably will find the problem is specific to a particular manufacturer; just avoid that brand.

        What does this all mean for civilians who purchase “military grade” or “milspec” ammo? Not much generally. If you have a good quality civilian firearm, you should experience no problems with most military surplus ammo. Just be sure to inspect it (some has been in storage for a LONG time), and be certain it is of the correct caliber for your firearm. If you have any doubt, buy the civilian round and get out there to the range! Have a great day exercising your freedoms!

      • Sounds to me, if what Larry Davis is saying is true, the “gun violence” groups would be more in support of “military grade” ammo. Sounds like the civilian grade ammo is much more lethal. (If there is such a thing)

      • Thing is, if you set up an array of all the ammo available to us, “mil spec” would be lost in an array of lethality with sporting bullets at both higher and lower levels of stopping power. I can load milspec 62 gr ball ammo into my Ruger or I can load “civilian” Hornady brand 73 grain HPBT match bullets. Not sure there is a huge difference. I am not sure anyone makes a bolt action match rifle with one in 7 or 8 twist to handle the heavier 5.56 bullets. My old man’s 225 Winchester had something like a 1 in 10. Was made for the lighter varmint bullets. We shot a lot of Sierra 52 gr HPBT. Anyone know?

      • I don’t think anyone originally meant to make a big deal out of “military grade ammunition” as a dog whistle but I just got a quick laugh out of something.

        I have been shooting Hornady .223 Remington 75 grain HPBT steel case match ammo (‘civilian ammo”) out of my AR as it is pretty accurate and the high ballistic coefficient means it travels well downrange to the 200 and 300 yd steel targets at the rifle range. I don’t reload it, so saved money with the steel cases. Hornady apparently discontinued that line after steel tariffs went into effect. At least that’s what the guy at the Hornady 800 number told me.

        So the next best thing in terms of cost is the Frontier 5.56×45 75 gr HPBT ammo. Slightly different bullet shape and ballistic coefficient but a minor difference. It is NATO “military grade” so it runs higher chamber pressure. The main difference is the muzzle velocity is higher so it has a slightly flatter trajectory. The 223 Remington drops 8.2 inches at 300 yds and the Frontier 7.0 inches, both out of 20″ barrels.

        A bullet is a bullet and the performance, whether steel targets or flesh and blood, depends on the projectile and the load, not what you call it. If they rename the Frontier cartridge to get rid of that bad word and call it Fred, it still has the same performance.

  3. What’s interesting about the state senate bills floating around in Virginia & Georgia is that they would outlaw AR-15s but allow the ownership of M-16s. Does that make sense!!??
    You bet! The ’34 NFA is the best gun law ever passed. As a result, M-16s have a better safety record than my beloved Kentucky Rifles.

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