AR-15, Fact and Fiction

Following the horrific school shooting in Parkland Florida, the U.S. is once again confronted with the question of how these terrible acts of meaningless violence could be halted. So far, the mainstream media and the anti-gun left have generally called for “tougher gun laws,” sometime including universal background checks. In an effort to understand the situation better, Wisconsin Media Check consulted Mike Shea, General Manager of the Family Shooting Academy who spoke to the inaccuracies reported in a USA Today article regarding the issue.

USA Today focused on the weapon used in the most recent shooting in “Why the AR-15 keeps appearing at America’s Deadliest mass shootings,” describing the the rifle used in the Parkland Florida tragedy as “America’s most popular weapon” and that it “was there for all of them” when discussing other mass shootings. Mike Shea, manager of Family Shooting Academy in Green Bay, offered Wisconsin Media Check his insight into the debate, and identified what he says are inaccuracies in the USA Today article about the firearm.

In the USA Today article, it quoted the The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who described the AR-15 rifle as:

“Along those lines, they’re very customizable — most average people can figure out how to install accessories like forward trigger grips that let you hold the gun at waist height and spray bullets while stabilizing the gun, laser sights, and you can add high-capacity magazines.”

Shea responded:

“There is no such thing as a ‘forward trigger grip’.

“Holding the gun at waist height and spraying bullets would be very ineffective. This is counter to it’s design and would cause inaccuracy; less hits on target.”

“High-capacity magazine is a subjective term. The standard capacity magazine for the AR-15 is 30 rounds. Some states have passed laws saying 10 rounds is enough and anything over that is high capacity. You can purchase magazines as high as 100 rounds. These 100 round magazines are not as reliable as standard 30 round magazines as they tend to jam the gun more often. This is due to the amount of spring tension needed to push 100 rounds of ammo into the gun vs 30 rounds.”

In the article, the AR-15 was dubbed “America’s most popular weapon,” and USA Today quoted owner of The Gun Experts Dean Hazen, who believed the AR-15’s “popularity” is due to a “copy-cat” mentality:

“It’s really just a perception thing. There are rifles that are more powerful and more dangerous than that, but they’re not being used.” Hazen said the AR-15 has “gotten a bad rap.” He believes mass shooters generally don’t know much about guns and choose the AR-15 because of the reputation it has gotten from being used in other mass shootings. “

“Thank God they don’t know any better because if they did they would use much more effective weapons,” Hazen said.”

Shea’s take:

“Consider volume when using this argument. The AR-15 is the most popular rifle therefore it will be used most often. It’s use is not because it is more deadly as it really is on the “weaker” side of rifles.”

Shea also pointed out that the article misnamed the gun used in the Orlando night club shooting, as they described the weapon as an AR-15 style rifle when it was not:

“The Sig MCX is not an AR-15 rifle. It uses the AR-15 Magazine and some of the same control placement. Admittedly it is easy to mistake for an AR-15 due to the magazine, ergonomic and cosmetic similarities.”

As for the call for universal background checks in the wake of the Parkland shooting, there is heated debate over whether a law would stop mass shootings.  Dr. John Lott wrote an analysis in the New York Times shortly before the shooting arguing background checks would do little to stop mass shootings. It was reported Tuesday that President Donald Trump is open to strengthening the background check system.

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