Hi, my name is AR-15. Some of you know me, but many more of you know of me — through the media. But you may not know the real me.
I’m that cool, sleek-looking black gun you’ve seen profiled by the press. They put me in newspapers and on TV, showing my picture as if it’s a mug shot, even though I’ve never committed a crime. Oh, bad people have at times used (and abused) me to do bad things, but not really that often; as even The New York Times admitted in 2014, firearms such as me — which that paper and others call “assault weapons” — are only used in two percent of gun crimes (most are perpetrated with handguns).
And that’s another thing. For a long time I didn’t mind the misnomer; it massaged my ego and made me feel like the big man on the block when I was called an “assault weapon.” But Mr. Duke convinced me that “pride goeth before a fall,” as the Good Book says. He pointed out that the term “assault weapon” was popularized by anti-gun zealot Josh Sugarmann, whose goal was to besmirch my reputation and get me banned. In fact, Sugarmann, not at all a sweet man, actually once said, “Assault weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully-automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons — anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun — can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.”
And it’s true, especially in my case. The public knows my appearance well; people have seen my cousin and dead ringer, M-16, fired machine-gun style in war movies for decades. But, alas, I, AR-15 — the weapon available to the public — can only be fired semi-automatic. This means that every time you pull my trigger, one shot, and only one shot, is released.
So even if we accept the term “assault weapon,” that’s not me. To qualify, a gun must be capable of fully automatic fire (machine-gun style), and no such weapons are readily available to the public. So unlike cousin M-16, who originally had a select-fire feature allowing him to be shot in various ways, I’m just a one-trick pony. And, by the way, “AR” in my name doesn’t stand for “assault rifle” but “Armalite Rifle,” referencing the company that first produced me.
Despite this, I’ve become a media whipping boy. Even when those rare crimes are committed in which a gun of my class is used, but which don’t involve me personally — such as the horrific Orlando incident, where Muslim terrorist Omar Mateen used a Sig Sauer MCX — my face is front and center. In fact, that’s what finally inspired me to speak out, articles such as this outrageous one from Daily News writer Gersh Kuntzman. Reporting on how he tried me at a Philly gun range, he actually wrote:
The recoil bruised my shoulder, which can happen if you don’t know what you’re doing. The brass shell casings disoriented me as they flew past my face. The smell of sulfur and destruction made me sick. The explosions — loud like a bomb — gave me a temporary form of PTSD. For at least an hour after firing the gun just a few times, I was anxious and irritable.
None of the above is true; I know because I was there. Oh, in my younger and more impetuous days I would’ve gotten a thrill out of being portrayed as such a macho guy. But the Truth will set you free (something the propagandizing Mr. Kuntzman should ponder).
And the truth is that I never bruised Mr. Kuntzman. One thing I can rightly puff up my chest over is that I have very little recoil because I’m high-tech — my mechanism is designed to absorb much of the energy of the blast. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Mr. Duke had the opportunity years ago to fire me on multiple occasions, and he says that I have by far the least kick of any firearm he ever used. And if you don’t believe him, trust your own eyes. Below is a video of a seven-year-old girl trying me for the first time (forward to the 25-second mark if you want to see just the actual firing).
Did the little lass say “Ow!” or register discomfort in any way? Did she rub her shoulder? A 12-gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot could have knocked that little tyke on her keister, but me? Also know that Kuntzman fired me only three times before bowing out, grousing that I was a “dangerous weapon.” And that fact, my friends, comes from Frank Stelmach, who was quoted by Kuntzman and who owns the gun range the journalist visited. You see, Mr. Duke actually called Stelmach, and one of the first things the man said to Duke — as he complained of how Kuntzman misrepresented his words and the experience at the range — was “It would be nice if journalists would write what you actually say!”
And by the by, Stelmach said that Kuntzman never mentioned anything about his shoulder or expressed that he was experiencing any kind of discomfort. Stelmach also called the notion that an ultra-low-recoil weapon such as me could bruise a grown man’s shoulder “nonsense.”
As for my “explosions” being “loud like a bomb,” well, I can belt out a song, but not like some other firearms. And no wonder. I fire the .223 cartridge, a small-caliber round the same diameter as a .22 (yes, .22s are those cute little rounds you put in your Marlin as a kid). Of course, my round is a lot more powerful than a .22 (in your face, Marlin!), but just take a look at these “killing power” rankings of rifle rounds. It’s hard to admit, but the .223 round listed — which is still more powerful than my .223 round and which I can’t fire — has the second least power of the 41 cartridges ranked. This is why many states have outlawed my use for hunting big game, such as deer. Imagine, they won’t even let me go after Bambi! In the same vein, when a lady friend of Mr. Duke’s tried me years ago, she remarked that, owing to my almost non-existent recoil, I was “like a toy.” It’s all quite emasculating.
Of course, then there are my magazines; for the Kuntzmans of the world, no, those aren’t things you read that usually contain liberal propaganda. They’re objects loaded with cartridges that, assuming they’re removable, you then insert into firearms. It’s true that high-capacity magazines are available for me. But criminals would always get them on the black market; moreover, with just a bit of effort, any gun’s removable magazine can be modified to hold a large number of rounds. So why am I singled out?
The answer is simple: my looks — and others’ prejudices. Take a gander at me below:
Am I not a sharp-lookin’ guy? Black is beautiful!
But it’s also seen as “menacing,” especially by liberals in the media. Face it, since I’m functionally no different from other legal firearms — semi-automatic just as most guns sold in America are — I can only conclude that I’m profiled as dangerous because of my sleek military-like appearance and my color. If I looked like those much more powerful hunting rifles, would you really be troubling over me?
As Mr. Duke likes to put it, this is standard liberal style over substance. Never sparing my ego, he points out that assuming I’m a machine gun because I look like cousin M-16 is akin to putting a Porsche body on a Yugo chassis and expecting to go 0 to 60 in under 6 seconds. Of course, my self-image will survive, but being misunderstood, mischaracterized and discriminated against is a bit depressing.
It’s enough to make me want to shoot myself.
This piece was written by AR and edited by Selwyn Duke for grammar, punctuation and style