We all have that friend, right? You know the guy who owns a few shotguns, maybe a pistol or a revolver, he hunts on occasion, but he doesn’t drink the new age kool-aid. You know, he’s just not into the black rifle scene. Maybe he’s a bit older, from your dad’s generation; or maybe he’s just a bit old school in his views. He values the Second Amendment, but he also believes in the “common ground” bromide bandied about by gun-control advocates. He believes “Shall not be infringed” means, “Well, there are some reasonable limits with respect to magazine capacity, black rifles, certain types of ammo, etc.”
Overall, he’s not a bad guy. But he’s not one of us. Let’s call him Tom Brokaw. Yeah, it appears the former news anchor is one of these guys. He’s a longtime gun owner, hunter, and outdoorsmen. But he’s moderately pro-gun in his views, which is to say that he exercises his right to keep and bear arms but he also supports some onerous restrictions.
While promoting his new show “Opening Day,” a one-hour special on NBCSN chronicling pheasant season, on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Brokaw shared his thoughts on the matter:
I’ve owned guns all my life. I’ve got a closet full of them in Montana and back here in the east as well. Hunting has been a terribly important part of my life growing up and it remains that. At the same time, as an urban dweller and someone who…feels the same pain that a lot of others do when we have these mass shootings, we need to have a discussion in the middle. We just can’t be a polarized country when it comes to guns.
We have the First Amendment as well as the Second Amendment. The First Amendment says, however, that you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater. I think when it comes to a gun debate we’re now in a crowded theater. We need to have a way of talking to each other sensibly about it.
When I was growing up we didn’t have all the semi-automatics and the sniper rifles and the TAC-22s. And a lot of people that I know in the American West will say the same thing…we don’t need to have access to all that. There’s got to be a middle ground of some kind.
Before you start hating on Brokaw, and millions of other gun owners who likely share his position, remember this, the moderate gun owner is nothing more than an inexperienced and uniformed gun owner. That’s all. In the majority of instances, the reason why these guys don’t mind bans on many commonly owned and widely popular black rifles is that they’ve not spent a lot of time around them. They’ve probably never fired them. They’re ignorant. They simply don’t understand that an AR-15 is no more dangerous or deadly than a standard big game hunting rifle, e.g. 30-06.
What’s more is they’ve been bombarded with the idea that black rifle equals mass shooting and more violence. This is a false thread that is perpetuated by a mainstream media that is sympathetic to the pro-gun control cause. The truth is that rifles of any make or model, including the “scary” black ones, are used in about four percent of crime. That’s all. Hardly the scourge gun-grabbers make them out to be.
Of course, there are other facts to share that might get them to move of the fence and join our side, such as the fact that overall violent crime is down while concealed carry rights have been expanded to all 50 states, including ‘shall-issue’ laws in more than 40 states, or the fact that various government departments found that the Clinton-Era ban on black rifles had no statistical impact on crime rates. A 2002 Centers for Disease Control study found that there was “insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.”
Bottom line, when it comes to Brokaw-types or your moderately pro-gun friend, they just need to be educated. They need to go out and put some lead down range with an AR-15. They need to be given the facts about black rifles. Then we can have a discussion and see which side they end up supporting. My guess, they’ll end up on ours.
With that in mind, here are some AR facts courtesy of the National Shooting Sports Foundation:
- AR-15-platform rifles are among the most popular firearms being sold. They are today’s modern sporting rifle.
- The AR in “AR-15” rifle stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s. “AR” does NOT stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.”
- AR-15-style rifles are NOT “assault weapons” or “assault rifles.” An assault rifle is fully automatic — a machine gun. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934.
- If someone calls an AR-15-style rifle an “assault weapon,” he or she either supports banning these firearms or does not understand their function and sporting use, or both. Please correct them. “Assault weapon” is a political term created by California anti-gun legislators to ban some semi-automatic rifles there in the 1980s.
- AR-15-style rifles look like military rifles, such as the M-16, but function like other semi-automatic civilian sporting firearms, firing only one round with each pull of the trigger.
- 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.
- Since the 19th century, civilian sporting rifles have evolved from their military predecessors. The modern sporting rifle simply follows that tradition.
- These rifles’ accuracy, reliability, ruggedness and versatility serve target shooters and hunters well. They are true all-weather firearms.
- Chamberings include .22, .223 (5.56 x 45mm), 6.8 SPC, .308, .450 Bushmaster and about a dozen others. Upper receivers for pistol calibers such as 9 mm, .40, and .45 are available. There are even .410 shotgun versions.
- These rifles are used for many different types of hunting, from varmint to big game. And they’re used for target shooting in the national matches.
- AR-15-style rifles are no more powerful than other hunting rifles of the same caliber and in most cases are chambered in calibers less powerful than common big-game hunting cartridges like the 30-06 Springfield and .300 Win. Mag.
- The AR-15 platform is modular. Owners like being able to affix different “uppers” (the barrel and chamber) to the “lower” (the grip, stock).
- And, they are a lot of fun to shoot!