This is the title and first paragraph of a recent NRA press release:
U.S. Firearm Production Sets Record in 2012: AR-15 Production Up Over 100%
“The number of firearms manufactured in the U.S. for sale to American customers hit an all-time high in 2012, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (BATFE) new Firearms Manufacturers and Export Report. American firearm manufacturers produced roughly 8.3 million firearms for sale in the U.S., a new record, up 33 percent from the 6.2 million produced for American customers in 2011.”
Wikipedia says this about the AR-15:
“The AR-15 is a lightweight, 5.56 mm/.223-caliber, magazine-fed, air cooled rifle with a rotating-lock bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation or long/short stroke piston operation. It has been produced in many different versions, including numerous semi-automatic and selective fire variants. It is manufactured with extensive use of aluminum alloys and synthetic materials.
“The AR-15 was first built by ArmaLite as a small arms rifle for the United States armed forces. Because of financial problems, ArmaLite sold the AR-15 design to Colt. After modifications (most notably the relocation of the charging handle from under the carrying handle like the AR-10 to the rear of the receiver), the new redesigned rifle was subsequently adopted as the M16 rifle. Colt then started selling the semi-automatic version of the M16 rifle as the Colt AR-15 for civilian sales in 1963 and the term has been used to refer to semiautomatic-only versions of the rifle since then. Although the name “AR-15” remains a Colt registered trademark, variants of the firearm are independently made, modified and sold under various names by multiple manufacturers.”
The phrase “adopted as the M16 rifle” means adopted by the U.S. Military. In other words, this is not a hunting weapon or a self-defense weapon, this is a weapon designed to kill a great many people as fast as possible, a military weapon. The rate of fire of the fully-automatic AR-15 was 800 rounds/min. The rate of fire of the semi-automatic version, the only version legal in the U.S., is indeterminant because it depends on how fast you can pull the trigger. Some say it is as low as 12-15 rounds per minute and that if you go faster, the barrel will overheat and the gun will jam. This seems a preposterous claim for a weapon designed to shoot 800 rounds/min. Also, a technique called “bump firing,” was devised that, while inaccurate, allows the trigger to be pulled at a very fast rate.
To make matters worse, while the interior parts of the commercial AR-15 have been redesigned so that the fully automatic parts from a military AR-15 cannot be just dropped in, consider this comment from January 2013 (Source: This Simple, Legal Add-On Lets an AR-15 Rifle Fire 900 Rounds Per Minute, Slate.com, 1-7-13):
“. . . a company called Slide Fire Solutions introduced a replacement rifle stock called the SSAR-15 that, for $369, allows you to bump fire your AR-15-style rifle from your shoulder while still retaining accuracy and control. The stock, in the simplest terms, is the part of the rifle you hold and brace against your shoulder. According to the Slide Fire website, “unlike traditional bump firing, the Slidestock allows the shooter to properly hold the firearm and maintain complete control at all times. As a result of the forward movement required to discharge each round, the shooter naturally corrects their point-of-aim for each shot and prevents recoil from pushing the firearm’s muzzle upward in an unsafe direction.” Or, as the subhed more concisely puts it, the SSAR-15 lets a shooter “unleash 100 rounds, in 7 seconds.” A product review at a site called Guns America notes that the SSAR-15 “installs in one minute with no special skills.”
Ah, that’s more like it. The NRA is crowing about record sales of a rifle that for a fraction of its original purchase price can be converted in just a few minutes to a fully automatic weapon capable of killing hundreds of people in just seconds.
Why would anyone think this was a good idea?
Ah, according to the Christian Science Monitor, “The estimated economic impact of the US firearms industry in 2012 was $31.8 billion, according to data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. That’s up from $27.8 billion in 2009.” You can always determine the “whys” of American politics by following the money.
The NRA is a shill for the U.S. firearm manufacturers. When they make money, the NRA makes money. The next time you hear of a mass murder, remember it was not a crime of passion, but of greed.
Postscript Many people claim being able to fire automatic rifles is great fun. I agree. I have done so myself. This can be enjoyed by one and all at licensed establishments designed for such pleasures. There is no need for individuals to own such weapons.