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Podcast Question: Why Does Anyone Need an AR-15?

The AR15, why does anyone need one?

We have wonderful Podcast listeners. Recently R.G. wrote in with a timely question:

Hey Guys,

Was listening to the recent News episode of the podcast. I had a question for you guys. I've been in some discussions with people who ask the infamous question, “Why does anyone need an AR-15?”
… One response that I get that I would like to know how you would respond to is, “The same outcome could have been accomplished with a handgun or a shotgun.” … I have my response to that but I was curious to how you would respond to someone suggesting (telling) you what you should use for home defensive purposes.
What follows is my answer to the following statement …

No One Needs an AR-15:

R.G. it is important that we have a logical, coherent, fact-based response to this question. I believe that many anti-gunners don't understand the complexity of gun legislation. They also do not understand guns or how they operate, and thus form their opinion based on emotion and the misinformation spread around by the news. Many anti-gunners are kind-hearted people who really believe that the gun-control legislation they call for will actually save lives.

These are the people we must try our best to educate and appeal to their sense of wanting to do good. Facts and rational conversations that not only debunk the notion that these proposed laws will make them safer coupled with presenting actual measures that will help is the best approach. Of course, there are ideologues whose response to facts is to reject everything you say, shout over you, and slander your character. My recommendation is not to engage in face to face or social media arguments with these people. It is a waste of your time, which is a valuable resource.

Fact-Based Responses:

Being able to back up your statements with facts is something that is very important, that is why I have included facts to back up my statements here in this article.

When someone asks the question, Why does anyone need an AR-15, we can respond with the following possible responses:
  • I don't need an AR-15, but I have the right to own one. It is a simple answer, that stands alone. Outside of states that already have “assault rifle” bans, owning an AR-15 is not illegal. Making this simple statement turns the question back toward the person to explain why people don't need an AR-15. They will respond with this:
    • AR-15s are military grade – FALSE
      • No military in the world uses a semi-automatic AR-15.
    • Fully automatic/machine guns – FALSE
      • They are semi-automatic, the same as 90% of other rifles and nearly 100% of handguns.

The AR-15 is semi-automatic only. One shot per trigger squeeze. Fully-automatic rifles can fire 3 round burst or continuously with a single trigger squeeze.

  • More lethal – FALSE
    • Guns are lethal, that is the point of them. If they were not lethal, criminals wouldn't use them to hurt others, and good guys wouldn't use them to defend themselves and others.
  • High caliber – False
    • The 5.56 cartridge is minuscule in size and kinetic energy when compared to the most popular hunting rifles. Take a look at the Remington 750 30-06 semi-automatic rifle. Doesn't look too scary, does it? Now look at the 30-06 cartridge of the Remington 750 and compare it to the 5.56 cartridge of the AR15. You can't argue with facts.

The 5.56 cartridge used in AR15's does not have close to the mass and kinetic energy of the 30-06, that is a common hunting caliber.

  • Are used to kill people in great numbers – FALSE
    • I would direct you to this link from the FBI. It shows that ALL rifles used in homicides are only a tiny fraction of the types of firearms used in homicides. In 2014 ALL rifles were used in 248 homicides. Compare that to the 5,562 homicides where a handgun was used. Or the 1,567 deaths where a knife or cutting instrument was used.

  • AR-15s are the gun of choice for mass shooters – FALSE
  • AR-15s can kill more people because of high capacity magazines – FALSE
    • High-capacity magazines is a made up term. The standard AR-15 magazine holds 30 rounds, and only became high-capacity when politicians thought that limiting a magazine to a 10 round capacity would make the gun safer. On a side note, the Parkland shooter used 10 round magazines. The magazine's capacity has nothing to do with the lethality of a firearm. Magazines can be changed out quickly negating the “more bullets = more lethal” concept. Furthermore, magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are not unique to AR-15's. Magazine limit restrictions just don't work.
  • AR-15s are only used to kill innocent humans – FALSE
    • Ar-15's are used far more often to protect innocent lives than to take innocent lives. Anti-gunners won't believe this fact because it completely shuts down the argument that they are only used for evil.
    • Listed are just a few incidents where the use of an AR-15 was used in a self-defense context.  Anyone who searches for “AR-15 used to save a life” or similar will be able to find many more justified uses.

This average man named Steven Williford prevented the Sutherland Springs massicer from being worse. He used his AR-15 to shoot the suspect, who later died of his injuries.

This is where they might also use the argument R.G. mentioned:

  • They could have just used a handgun.
    • In some instances maybe any gun would have stopped the attackers, there is no way to know that. But you can be sure that instances like Sutherland Springs, where the good guy shot from a distance would have been much more difficult with a handgun. And with a shotgun, nearly impossible.
      • Shotguns at distance are ineffective, and actually, place the general public at increased risk because of the spreading pellets.
    • I would say, maybe they could have used a different gun, but Why do you think they chose an AR-15? The answer is simple:
      • AR-15s are much easier to learn how to shoot. They are accurate, light and don't produce a lot of recoil making the gun perfect for women, older people, and children. These are just some of the reasons why it is the most popular platform for a sporting rifle. The fact that it is so user-friendly is the reason it replaced nearly every other carbine or rifle used by law enforcement.
      • The fact that the AR-15 was used and was successful in saving someone's life, while not producing collateral injury, proves its viability as a self-defense firearm.

Alpha Addy, a juvenile competitive shooter can handle the AR-15 like a champ. This ease of use is a reason it is such a popular rifle.

  • Keeping with the “couldn't they just use a handgun or shotgun” argument, propose this question. If AR-15s were banned, couldn't a killer just use a handgun or shotgun?' Sure they could, you can show them the above incidents where the person intent on committing murder DID use a different type of gun, knife, blunt object, etc.
  • The assault weapons ban was implemented for 10 years, and the government study showed it had ZERO effect on safety.

And Most Simply:

  • I need an AR-15 because criminals have AR-15s. As long as criminals can use it against my family, I deserve the right to defend my family against those criminals with a firearm that shines in the role of self-defense.

I hope this helps and can be used as a reference when trying to educate and answer that popular question of why does anyone need an AR-15?

If you like content like this, make sure to check out the Concealed Carry Podcast, where we present legal, tactical, and educational aspects related to firearm ownership and concealed carry.

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18 Responses to Podcast Question: Why Does Anyone Need an AR-15?

  1. John Legggat March 27, 2018 at 7:33 pm #

    My little village here on Ridge road in NY, is about 60 miles East of Niagara Falls. During the war of 1812, a Brit group with a band of Indians started moving East, burning every farm. The first survivor arrived and gave warning. There was one farm here, with enough land cleared to support a horse, so that rider set out immediately. Within 24 hours, they Marched West with 200 men after electing their own leader, most with a blanket for a coat, and old equipment to stop the threat. They met the brits and indians who were at a village tavern about half way to Niagara Falls, they waited until past midnight, rushed the tavern and captured the brits who had stacked arms, and killed some of the indians who fought back with axes and knives. They then marched the prisoners to link up North of Buffalo and took part in the battles. When they were released to return home. Every member of the unit was given a brand new Brittash rifle, ammunition and ball. The state of the Art weapon of the day, each man kept them. The intent of the 2nd Amendment was clear then, and it is clear now. With Asymmetric warfare the coming threat, anyone intending on watering down the 2nd Amendment and banning the ‘common use arm’ of the day, the AR-15, is either clueless or wanting to see the Nation weakened. The AR-15 is the one weapon currently available that meets the intent of the 2nd Amendment. Same training, same parts, same magazines, same ammunition, and same accessories. Anyone thinking of removing them from citizens hands is wearing blinders.

    • Anita Ray October 28, 2018 at 4:40 pm #

      Well said, John! Thank you.

  2. Albert March 28, 2018 at 7:12 am #

    “no one ‘needs’ a {Fill in the blank}; there are ‘wants’ and ‘needs’; everyone ‘needs’ FOOD, CLOTHING, and SHELTER…everything else is ‘nice to have’………unfortunately, I usually run out of ‘money’ before I run out of ‘wants’….

  3. C.Barba March 28, 2018 at 11:17 am #

    People also need to be educated on what AR 15 means and does not stand for Assault Rifle!

    • Matthew Maruster March 28, 2018 at 11:19 am #

      Great point, I overlooked the confusion people have with the name.

  4. Bill March 28, 2018 at 6:11 pm #

    Great article! I enjoyed reading it!
    Some people as you state will never change their mind, either because they are just so far gone there actually is no way back for them or they have been brainwashed for so long, they won’t even listen to an opposing opinion! No one has brought up that back in my school days (45 years or so ago) there wasn’t a pickup truck that could be seen without a gun rack in the back window, and usually a shotgun or such on the rack in the school parking lot, and that was a normal site seen everywhere. We didn’t go out and shoot anyone, it wasn’t even a thought, In fact I really don’t remember school shootings at all ever while i was growing up, so I guess the statement “guns don’t kill people, People kill People” Actually is true!!.
    As proven over and over Knowledge is power but I’m afraid with all of the media pushing this falsehood about guns most people really do believe what their hearing…… That used to be something you could do in the past (put some trust in the media as to what they were saying was actually true), but not anymore in today’s world!
    Great Article Thanks!!
    God Bless America!

    • Matthew Maruster March 28, 2018 at 6:52 pm #

      Thank for the great feedback Bill! The attitude towards guns and gun owners have changed. We will continue to fight the noble fight and do it with facts and reason. God bless Sir!

  5. Jay Lacson March 28, 2018 at 7:59 pm #

    I love the AR-15 and have owned a few in the past. What is interesting is when I did have an AR all it did was collect dust. So i have sold them in the last few years and probably will not buy another rifle in the near future. With that said the AR-15 platform is the best rifle in the USA as far as I am concerned. It is very easy to shoot, very little recoil and very easy to clean.

  6. Tanner June 19, 2018 at 7:40 am #

    One argument I’d like to add in regards to magazine capacity (few people think of this): with minimal practice a magazine change can be performed in about a second (even less with more practice), therefore a magazine capacity restriction only empowers those meant to do harm over those who respond in defense. How do? Well… a person threat is going on the offensive will take time to prepare (as is seen in nearly EVERY case of a mass shooting or home invasion). They will have spare magazines loaded and stuffed into a tac vest, magazine pouch etc. ready for speedy reloads. The defensive responder on the other hand will very often not have time to prepare. They will tend to only have the rounds already in the rifle (or handgun, or shotgun) to use to defend themselves and others. Imagine the situation where you are awoken by the sound of your door being kicked in in the middle of the night… are you going to have spare magazines at the ready? Or time to grab them? I bet you’d feel a lot better with 30 rounds than 10. Your attackers will have spares…

  7. Robert Bruce November 18, 2018 at 6:16 pm #

    I want to thank anyone/everyone who contributed to this most informative and refreshing review of the AR-15:the myths surrounding it, the lies told about it, and the many practical, nay, indispensable uses of–not least of which are the protection of home, hearth, person,, freedom, and country. Sometimes I feel as if I am adrift in a sea of limbic brained, crayon chewing liberals incapable of creating anything resembling coherent thought on their own. Thankfully there are folks out there who use DATA and their gray cells to think these problems through! Godspeed to all of you!

    • Matthew Maruster November 19, 2018 at 9:58 am #

      Thanks Robert,
      I appreciate the feedback about on the post. I agree, that there is much confusion about what the heck the AR is and what it isn’t. I am amazed at the level of ignorance surrounding the AR-15 amongst average citizens. But also disappointed by gun owners who believe that anyone who asks “why do you need an AR-15” should be answered with expletives and anger. They will be quick to condemn a ‘leftist’ because when it comes to gun rights they have no idea what they are talking about. But at the same time, can’t articulate an argument for their position besides regurgitated talking points like ‘molon labe’ and ‘because the second amendment says I can’. Obviously, these people are not the ones who will be part of the solution in educating the masses. They actually do more harm than good. Anyhow, I am glad you saw the goal of the article is focusing on cogent arguments by which people can use to educate rather than infuriate.

      • Robert Bruce November 20, 2018 at 11:25 am #

        Hi Matthew, Thank you for your response. I wasn’t aware that I had used “expletives,” which (I interpret as bad words) in my response–but I certainly did use some…shall we call them less-than-generous terms? Do I engage in the use of name calling when I engage the uninformed public? No, I don’t and neither do I allow myself the pointless luxury of becoming angry (at least visibly). As you pointed out this is counter-productive–it reinforces the very myths we are trying to dispel about firearms owners. In this context I did use the terms “limbic-brained, crayon chewing liberals” because I thought that I was enough among friends that I could (finally) let off a little steam after 30 years of firearms activism in which I have behaved myself, I believe, admirably. I completely agree with you that we must conduct ourselves as ladies and gentlemen when addressing these issues. If my words gave you pause to gently correct me, then I thank you for taking time out to do so. I meant no offense, certainly. At the same time, it has become difficult to behave in an exemplary fashion when others engage in mindless chanting and call us fascists. It’s hard to stick to the facts and behave when the other side is screaming obscenities and accusing one of being either openly a “Nazi” or perhaps a “Crypto-Nazi.” It would be nice if the other side in this debate would behave themselves in the same manner in which we are expected to behave. But you are right–to “win” here, we must conduct ourselves properly. But after 30 years, I’m getting a little tired. Thank you for your time, your sentiments, and your gentle correction. Sincerely, Robert

        • Matthew Maruster November 20, 2018 at 11:53 am #

          I apologize but my response about gun owners not being civil when asked questions like these was not directed toward you at all. I wish I would have made it more clear that I was grateful for your comment because it echoed what I was trying to convey in the original article. I truly appreciate your response and you taking the time to comment on the post. Your comment wasn’t filled with any expletives or anything offensive what so ever. And I completely agree that it becomes unbearable to have your moral integrity attacked simply for disagreeing on a policy issue. But honestly, I have learned to accept these people and found it helps decrease the frustration. What I actually find more frustrating are gun owners that don’t want to be part of an educated discussion and instead give the appearance that gun owners are ignorant maniacs. This plays into their hands. I see their posts all the time over social media. Again, I am truly sorry that my response seemed to be directed toward you. It was not what so ever. Thanks again 🙂

    • Craig R. March 24, 2019 at 6:13 pm #

      As a crayon chewing liberal I can’t wait to leave the state of Ct. and go where I can by and shoot a AR-15. My 1911 45 and snub nose 357 are fun but don’t have the distance I’d like to practice from. So please, be careful who you insult.

      • Jack Barker October 31, 2019 at 11:57 pm #

        @Craig R. ~ You aren’t the only Left-of-Ghengis-Khan who is also a proud (and I pray responsible) gun-owner here. Since I frequent quite a few gun-related sites daily, I’ve been called names and told I belong to some nameless cabal with the sole purpose of destroying 2A, and quite frankly, I’m exhausted by it. I’m going to take a leap here, and guess than most gun owners are conservative, but by no means are *all* gun owners conservative, and the Democrats I know and share this passion with, are 2A first, other politics second.

  8. Robert Bruce November 20, 2018 at 12:36 pm #

    Thank you, Matthew 🙂

  9. Patrick Wagner March 24, 2019 at 4:13 pm #

    I would like to add. From the beginning of mans existence the right to defend yourself has been a given. Those with the biggest rock stays alive.

    Then again why is it anyone’s business what I own….

  10. Mike G September 11, 2019 at 10:54 am #

    Why do we need cars with 300hp? The speed limit is 65 or less….and accidents claim 161K per year.. Why do we need to buy beer in 30 packs? Drinking kills 88K per year… Why do we need supersized meals at McDonalds and large sugar snacks? Heart disease kills over 600K per year…Each of those “needs” kills more people exponentially than guns each year in America…33K gun deaths AND 19K of those were suicide… heart Disease, drunk driving, and reckless driving are Americas real threats!

    Why do I need my AR-15? Because I have a right and a duty to protect my family and my freedom… and my constitutional right allows it…besides, it is safer than speeding, drinking, and eating too much.

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