Why I Own an AR

Trigger Warning: This image may cause PTSD in certain, highly sensitive individuals.

I remember the first time I shot an AR-15. It didn’t belong to me, but I had an absolute blast (pun intended) breaking clay pigeons into smaller and smaller pieces on the 50 yard berm. I had shot larger, center-fire rifles in the past, but they all had significant recoil and weren’t that enjoyable to shoot after 20 rounds or so. The .223 Remington cartridge produces minimal recoil in the AR platform and was plenty accurate for a very fun afternoon of shooting. It would be 10 years before I finally had the chance to buy one after I move back to America from California. And I still really enjoy shooting them.

Not Assault Rifle

The Anti-Gun lobby is vehemently opposed to America’s Rifle. They mis-label them “Assault Rifles,” call them “Weapons of War” and revile their usage claiming no one “needs” one. As you might expect, I disagree. First, an AR-15 is not an assault rifle. An assault rifle fires an intermediate cartridge and select fire, meaning it can fire in semi-auto or full-auto (and sometimes burst) modes. The .223/5.56 AR-15 common all across America is neither an intermediate cartridge and fires in semi-auto only. Sure, they look very similar to the military’s M4 carbine and M16 rifle, but then again, granddad’s Model 70 30-06 bolt action deer gun looks an awful lot like the 1903 Springfield our troops carried into WWI.

The truth is, for centuries the military has used pretty much the same guns civilians have used. And full-autos have been highly regulated ever since the 1934 National Firearms Act. Moreover, if you look at the bullet and cartridge size of any deer hunting rifle, and consider it’s terminal performance, you’ll find the .22 caliber bullet sent by the AR-15 is pretty mild. Just because it’s black and “scary” doesn’t mean it’s actually “deadlier.” The Anti-Gunners like to say that the AR-15 has no purpose other than killing as many people as possible. That of course, is a steaming pile of cow poop. Having owned at least one AR-15 for two years, I have yet to kill a single person, let along as many people as possible. Still, I’ve fired hundreds of rounds through them and enjoyed it quite a lot.

AR-15s are used extensively in competition shooting such as 3-gun matches; they work great for predator control on ranches; they make fun target rifles at moderate distances; and are very effective home defense guns—as we saw in Oklahoma recently. We’ll get to that in a minute.

The Ultimate Lego Gun

AR-15s have become wildly popular in the last 10 years or so. Dubbed the Modern Sporting Rifle or Black Rifles (Black Rifles Matter!), millions have been sold to law-abiding civilians all across the free states. Why are they so popular? For many of the reasons already mentioned—low recoil, multi-use, affordable to shoot—are valid. More than that, the AR platform is just that—a platform. The guns can be configured in a wide variety of ways and are customizable without an extensive tool set or years of gun-smithing experience.

It’s super-easy to change out a hand guard, swap the sights, change the stock or grip, and hang all kinds of doodads off the gun such as lights, lasers, thermal scopes and night vision. Even trigger swaps and caliber conversions are fairly simple with a few basic tools. Because of their modularity, you could own a single lower—the stock, grip and trigger, what the ATF considers the gun; and multiple uppers—the top half of the receiver, barrel, hand guard and sights/optics. Those uppers could be different barrel lengths or even different calibers. It’s all very efficient.

Highly Effective

Those are some of the reasons ARs are so popular. But there’s another reason, and we can go back to the foiled home invasion in Oklahoma a few weeks ago to find it. The AR-15 is a very effective home defense tool.

If you’re not familiar with the story, three thugs were dropped off by a fourth at a home in the country. They went around back and kicked in the door. One was armed with a knife and another with brass knuckles. Clearly, they weren’t part of the Welcome Wagon. Hearing the commotion, the 23-year old son of the homeowner grabbed his AR-15. Words were exchanged and when the miscreants didn’t leave the house (which would have been the smart thing to do), the son shot all three of them. Sadly, they all died.

The story has gained some national attention as the grandfather of one of the thugs claimed the fact that the son armed himself with an AR-15 made it, “not a fair fight.” Um, excuse me. Three against one is a fair fight? Especially when there is a knife and brass knuckles involved? Look, if these felons wanted a fair fight, they should have joined a dojo. Instead, they armed themselves and broke into a house. Sadly for them, they chose poorly.

But this story is exactly why I have my AR set up as a home defense tool. Home invaders usually try to outnumber their victims. While I’m reasonably proficient with a pistol—which I carry all the time—if I can fight back with my AR, the odds tilt back towards my favor. And you know what? If three or more people break into my house with intent to do me and my family harm, I don’t want a fair fight. I want every advantage I can find. 28 Rounds in a short, handy, accurate package? Sounds good to me.

The AR platform is highly effective as a defensive tool. One person was able to fend off three. No doubt he could have handled a few more had it been necessary. I cannot for the life of me think of one reason why that’s a bad thing.

I’ve never understood the leftist gun-grabber’s love for the criminal. One newspaper even went so far as to call the above mentioned criminals “shooting victims.” I’m sorry, the guy that had to shoot the home invaders is the victim. The  criminals are the criminals. Yes, they got shot. And died. But they defined the terms of that relationship. Here’s an idea; if you don’t want to get shot by armed homeowners, how about not breaking into houses?

Yes, to the uninitiated, a tricked out AR-15 can look a little scary. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe future criminals, when they bust into a house and find themselves starring down the barrel of the homeowner’s AR will turn tail and run out as fast as they can? Criminals are not law-abiding, but they’re not stupid. And most don’t have a death wish.

Ultimately, I own at least one AR-15 because they’re fun to shoot, fun to build, versatile and highly effective. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

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