AR-15 Misconceptions

The other day when I was playing Halo: Reach with my sons, nephew, and brother, one of my sons referred to the assault rifle in the game as an “AR.” I asked him why he did this and he said it was because “AR” is short for assault rifle, like in the case of an AR-15. When questioned further he said he read this in a book about guns and hunting. Then, taking a look at the paragraph in the book he was referencing, I saw that he simply misunderstood what the author was saying. This scenario turned out to be a simple mistake in understanding by a teenage boy, but there are many adults out there that are completely ignorant on what constitutes an assault rifle and how an AR-15 is different. Sad to say, but many of these adults are in charge of legislation in America. I have heard many Democrat politicians and other gun-control supporters make erroneous claims about the AR-15 sporting rifle and it is time to set them straight.

The Name

Let’s get one thing sorted out right off the bat. The “AR” in AR-15 does not stand for assault rifle, it stands for ArmaLite Rifle, which is the name of the original manufacturer. The “15” in AR-15 only designates the model, nothing about its capabilities.

This is an AR-5 which was developed in the 1950’s. You can see ArmaLite branded on it.

Semi-Automatic vs. Fully-Automatic

All over social media platforms I have seen and heard liberals and Democrats calling the AR-15 a fully-automatic assault rifle. Not all states agree 100% on what the criteria is when classifying an assault rifle. Some contend that a detachable magazine, which almost all modern guns have, or a medium sized cartridge should be a part of the criteria. However, by and large the most widely agreed upon metric is that of firing style. A gun that shoots one bullet for every one trigger pull is classified as a semi-automatic firearm. Whereas a gun that shoots continuously while the trigger is depressed is classified as a fully-automatic firearm. Semi-automatic, one trigger pull, one bullet. Fully-automatic, one trigger pull, many bullets. This means that virtually every type of rifle and handgun in existence is a semi-automatic firearm, including the AR-15. Now, some rifles have what is called selective fire, which simply means the operator can toggle a switch between semi-automatic, burst fire (three bullets per trigger pull), and fully-automatic. The civilian AR-15 does not have selective fire. I repeat, the civilian AR-15 does not have selective fire, it only has the capability to fire one shot per one trigger pull, making it a semi-automatic firearm. If I sound like I am repeating myself a lot, it is because I am, this information needs to be ground into people’s minds.

In 2016, shortly after the Orlando nightclub shooting, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) claimed that an AR-15 could fire 700 rounds per minute. Not only is this false but it is impossible as the AR-15 is semi-automatic and can only fire one shot per trigger pull. A person would need to pull the trigger 11.67 times per second in order to fire 700 rounds in a minute, plus be able to reload absurdly fast. Not only that, but the rifle is also prone to jamming when fired too quickly!

Home Defense

Home defense is a popular topic in the pro-gun community. When talking about this issue it is difficult not to discuss which firearms are best used. Some folks will prefer a shotgun in order to avoid having to be as accurate or having a stray bullet puncturing a wall and hitting someone on the other side. Others will like a handgun better because it is lightweight and more maneuverable while also holding more shots (on average). The AR-15 can also be useful as a home defense weapon, it has low recoil, is lightweight, and can hold more ammunition than a shotgun. The importance of being able to hold more ammunition comes into play if there are multiple attackers or intruders and in reducing the likelihood of making yourself vulnerable while reloading. Yet, despite these obvious benefits to using the AR-15 as a home defense weapon, and the fact these benefits enable a wide range of people to protect themselves and their family, many liberals will insist that it is unnecessary or overkill.

High Powered Rifle

There is a false perception out there that the AR-15 is a “high powered” rifle, more powerful than other standard rifles. The AR-15 can be chambered in .22, .223, .308, .450, and a variety of other calibers. However, no matter which caliber it is chambered in it is no more powerful than any other rifle chambered in that same caliber.


I hear the language “assault style rifle” or “military style rifle” used by the media and Democrat leaders a lot. I believe that the media and Democrat leaders who use this language are referring to the cosmetics of the AR-15. They aren’t wrong, the AR-15 looks a lot like the M16 rifles used by the military. However, this is because the military spent millions of dollars researching and planning out the ideal physical structure of an effective rifle. The AR-15 merely copied what the military did because it allows for a dazzling range of custom options. Scopes, lights, straps, sights, ammo holders, etc. can all be attached to this rifle design. Should the looks alone be enough to classify the AR-15 as a “military style rifle?” No, and that is a tactic largely undertaken by those who are seeking only to use the appearance of the AR-15 to scare uneducated voters into supporting stricter gun laws.

Something else worth noting is that the M9 handgun has been used by the military for the last 30 years or so, yet it is also widely available for civilian purchase. Nothing is even changed about it, it still retains all capabilities. This is unlike the AR-15, which has selective fire when used in the military yet is only available to civilians in a semi-automatic setting. Why don’t anti-gunners decry the M9 as “military style?” The Mossberg 590A1 shotgun is also used in the military and is made available for civilian purchase without any modifications. Why don’t they attack this one as “military style?” The answer lies within appearance and scare tactics. The AR-15 looks like a fully automatic rifle, which alone will cause some folks pause, and when that appearance is combined with misinformation about how fast it can shoot or how powerful it is, fear is created. Where there is fear, there are people willing to ban the AR-15.


When hearing news stories or opinions about shootings or firearms it is important to take them with a grain of salt until you have done your own research. Certain politicians and voters want gun-control, period, and they are willing to lie or spread false information in the pursuit of that goal. We live in the age of the internet and information, so hunt for knowledge and educate yourself on the issues before forming an opinion. Also keep in mind that no politician, news anchor, or journalist keeps their own beliefs or opinions completely out of the stories or legislation they push.


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