April 24, 2018

Does the AR-15 Have a Place in Sports?

Jeremy Liebman ‘21

Dick’s Sporting Goods recently banned the AR-15 and other assault-style weapons after the shooting in Broward County, Florida, but was this the right decision? Is the AR-15 a sporting rifle that was unfortunately used in a few mass shootings?
The AR-15 has been advertised as a hunting rifle for decades. The National Rifle Association calls it  the “most popular rifle in america.” In 1963, Colt, the company producing the rifle, advertised the AR-15 as a hunting rifle by calling it the AR-15 Sporter. Their advertisements referred to the AR-15 as a “superb hunting partner.”
The AR-15 traditionally fires a .233 caliber bullet, which is not very effective when trying to kill larger game. Some hunters argue that using an AR-15 for hunting encourages sloppy “spray and pray” and wastes ammunition. Others argue that the AR-15 is the perfect gun for hunting due to its quick rate of fire compared to other hunting rifles, which could help when hunting.
“They're accurate,” Don Helms, an NRA certified instructor said in a February Associated Press article. “They're easy to operate, and you can become quite proficient with them.”
Helms said the AR-15 is perfect for hunting due to its low recoil and that it makes it easier to track a target. After Pennsylvania legalized the AR-15 for hunting, the Pennsylvania Game Commision conducted a survey of 4,000 hunters wich found most did not believe the AR-15 was an effective hunting rifle when hunting for bigger game, but did find it effective when hunting for smaller game.
A common misconception about the AR-15 is that “AR” stands for assault rifle; it actually stands for Armalite, the company that produces the rifle. The AR-15 is not even an assault rifle. Assault rifles are automatic weapons and have been heavily restricted from civilian use for the last few decades. An AR-15 fires one bullet with each pull of the trigger.
The AR-15’s appearance also contributes to its infamous reputation, as it looks similar to many military-style weapons. The AR-15 is also just as powerful as other hunting rifles and sellers argue it receives more criticism just because of its appearance.

There are, however, several similarities between the AR-15 and assault rifles. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic version of the M16 rifle, which is a fully automatic rifle used by the United States military. Critics of the AR-15 argue that it wasn’t built to be a hunting rifle due to its similarities to the M16 which was built to kill. A major argument for this is the AR-15 is built to do more damage to tissue per bullet then a traditional hunting rifle.

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