There’s a new anti-gun commercial making waves. The on-screen talent for this one may be a bit surprising to some, but therein lies the supposed power of the message. They are veterans from multiple branches and multiple conflicts, all unified in their goal to see an all-out ban on what they call “military-style assault rifles.”
The message, though, is a bit problematic. This is a commercial, of course, so we can’t expect them to make a fully supported and articulate argument. And they don’t.
The first point of contention is, by this point in the conversation, getting a bit tired. The commercial conflates the AR-15 with the M-16 and M-4, again.
“It is basically the same…,” one of the vets says. Then her voice takes on the air of indignant authority as she declares: “You know what? It is the same.”
Anyone who knows much about guns understands how they are different. The most notable distinction is that the M-16 and M-4 are both select-fire guns. The AR-15 is a semiautomatic. Though they try to label the AR-15 as “rapid-fire” in the commercial, there’s really nothing that makes the AR-15 any more rapid than many of the other firearms available to citizens.
The stars of the video say, repeatedly, that there’s no reason anyone other than the military or police should have one of these guns. That would be fine if the military actually had these guns. The military doesn’t have AR-15s.
They then go into one of the timeless arguments about the intentions of our founding fathers. Here’s the rub with that historical nugget. At the time, soldiers were armed with smooth-bore muskets. Many of the colonists had well-made rifles, which were far more accurate. During that time, when the Second Amendment was penned, the new American citizens had the technological advantage. Citizens were winning the arms race. No one, not even the veterans in this ad, would suggest that American citizens are winning the arms race now.
There’s one more point that worth making, and it requires a couple of images. These talking heads, the ones we are asked to accept as authorities, are handling an AR-15 in the video. There are two things wrong with the gun, though.
The first is an obvious safety violation. The safety selector is not on safe. That rifle should be on safe, there, in the video. There’s no other acceptable way to handle a gun that you do not intend to immediately fire.
The second is a bit laughable. The rifle in the footage doesn’t have a rear sight. It may shoot, but it isn’t going to be very accurate.
In the end, there is one very real shortcoming. While these men and women make a passionate plea for a ban on AR-15s, there are others out there who trust their AR-15s for self defense. We can ignore, for the moment, that the AR family of rifles has a devoted following among hunters and athletes. That can’t compare, even remotely, to the number of law-abiding gun owners who keep an AR-15 on hand just-in-case.
The AR-15 is an exceptional gun. It is accurate, reliable, allows for easy customization, is affordable, and efficient. The variety of .223 loads available make it useful for hunting, plinking, shooting competitions, and for home defense. It is a tool. Like all tools, it is how you use it that matters. The AR-15 is a gun that is used, regularly, for self defense. The vets in this video ignore that completely.