(Updated) The Problem Is…

M16A1 Assault Rifle, Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

…That Jason Alexander doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. His lengthy monologue on guns and gun rights isn’t stupid; it’s well-considered and well-presented. Unfortunately, what Mr. Alexander doesn’t know is what he doesn’t know.

His knowledge of guns is obviously exceptionally limited and I doubt that he has spent much time considering gun rights in the constitutional sense.

This, for example, is wrong as soon as he starts answering his own questions. It is wrong because he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

What purpose does an AR-15 serve to a sportsman that a more standard hunting rifle does not serve? Let’s see – does it fire more rounds without reload? Yes. Does it fire farther and more accurately? Yes. Does it accommodate a more lethal payload? Yes. So basically, the purpose of an assault style weapon is to kill more stuff, more fully, faster and from further away. To achieve maximum lethality.

Nope, your standard AR-15 is not more powerful than, perhaps, the majority of hunting rifles. It most certainly doesn’t fire “farther and more accurately” than your standard hunting rifle. Depending on the kind of hunting rifle you are employing, it may well not even have a larger magazine nor “fire more rounds without a reload.”

The AR-15 uses a relatively light round with decent medium-range accuracy. In fact, the whole point of the modern assault rifle was to use lighter rounds in lighter weapons to deal with the reality that most combat happens not at long distances but in relatively close spaces.

The military assault rifle was also designed to send a lot of lead downrange quickly since studies post-WW 2 showed that most infantrymen did less aiming than their superiors might have expected. Casualties, then, were expected to be more a function of a storm of bullets than a well-placed, single shot. The rifles that men carried into combat previously had been designed with much heavier bullets to fire at much greater distances with better accuracty– and were more cumbersome, heavier, and slower.

But a civilian AR-15 ain’t a military assault rifle. It doesn’t have the select fire capability that allows it to create that storm of bullets. Just as with any other semi-automatic rifle, every time you pull the trigger one round fires, a shell is ejected, and another round is chambered.

What Mr. Alexander has described is some mythical weapon that he has built in his head. This weapon has terrible purpose and magical killing abilities. To him, the civilian assault rifle is demonic.

Again I say, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This is not me calling him a moron or telling him he doesn’t have a right to his opinion; this is me saying that he is speaking from a place of deep ignorance.

He says he wants an honest discussion, which is fine. The first part of that discussion, though, would be for him to educate himself instead of passing on misinformation. Include in that this little doozy: “Despite these massacres recurring and despite the 100,000 Americans that die every year due to domestic gun violence…”

That number is about triple the number of actual gun fatalities in the US (31,513 in 2010), and more than half of those fatalities came from folks committing suicide (19,308). No, that doesn’t make the real number pretty, but it is nothing like the number put forward by Mr. Alexander– his numbers are about as trustworthy as his understanding of the civilian AR-15.

Mr. Alexander is calling for those of us who believe it is our right to own a weapon like the civilian AR-15 to have a conversation with reasonable people who believe the opposite. When I start running into reasonable, well-informed people on that side of the conversation, maybe I’ll take his advice. Until then, the first step is education and pushing back against the lies, half-truths, and misconceptions.


For a little more reading on the subject of the 5.56mm round, here’s a little something from our friend, Roger Fraley.