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Opinion: The AR-15 is not just good for home defense, it is necessary

The AR-15 is a good tool for the American people. Not only is the AR-15 good for home defense, but it is also necessary.

Last week a pregnant woman found her husband and 11-year-old daughter being attacked by two armed intruders outside her bedroom. One suspect fired a round towards the woman. She retreated to her bedroom, grabbed her AR-15 (style) rifle and returned fire, hitting and killing one of the suspects as the other suspect fled.

To be fair, one could easily say that the woman “happened” to be using an AR-15 but could have been equally successful using another firearm, such as a shotgun or handgun, in which case this story would be a “win” for the home-defense narrative but not necessarily a “win” for AR-15 ownership.

But it’s not that simple.

The differences between an AR-15 and a shotgun, hunting rifle, and handgun are significant. And these differences justify the necessity of having an AR-15 in your home-defense arsenal. I’ll use a statement by former Vice President Joe Biden to respond to. To be clear, this is not an attempt to ridicule the former vice president. He just happens to so perfectly say the wrong things about the AR-15 narrative that it matches up with my thesis.

“If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun, have the shells, a 12-gauge shotgun, and I promise you, as I told my wife — we live in an area that’s wooded and somewhat secluded — I said ‘Jill, if there’s ever a problem just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put that double-barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.’ I promise you, whoever’s coming in is not — you don’t need an AR-15. It’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use, and in fact you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun.”

“You don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself”

In the case of Mrs. King, she was a stand-alone army against two robbers, both armed with handguns. Most modern handguns come with staggered-stacked magazines giving them an average load capacity of 12–15 rounds each. So it is likely that these two robbers had a combined total of between 24 and 30 rounds. And even if their combined total was equal to her magazine’s capacity (assuming she had a 30-round mag), they have the advantage since there are two of them and they can fire from different angles. So it is fair to allow the home-defender to have a higher capacity magazine since many intrusions include more than one assailant with a gun. It’s also fair to give the homeowner the advantage because, ya know, they’re an innocent human whose life is being threatened. At this point, we don’t know how many rounds each party fired. But in principle, I would hate for Mrs. King to be limited to two-rounds (or even 10) when her assailants have near 30.

An AR-15 is “harder to aim”

This is a manipulative statement. Yes, it is “easier” to aim with a shotgun because there’s not as much aiming to do since, given the spread of a shotgun round, you’re usually shooting for close proximity as opposed to on a precise target. Given the distance between Mrs. King and the robbers and her family, the spread of a shotgun round could make the scenario even more dangerous.

An AR-15 is “harder to use”

This statement is just flat out wrong. In contrast to its power, the AR-15 is extremely easy to handle — FAR easier than a shotgun. With an AR-15, the blast is absorbed in the buttstock of the rifle making the kick substantially lighter than what a .223 caliber round would otherwise produce. Shotguns and other rifles don’t share this characteristic. Think of it as driving a car on a bumpy road. A shotgun or hunting rifle is like driving a car with no shock absorbers, whereas an AR-15 is like driving a car with shock absorbers. This is imperative in home defense since a non-absorbed kick will create a 1-3 second disorientation for an unexperienced marksman– a disorientation nearly mitigated with an AR-15.

Why can’t you use a handgun?

While this argument wasn’t used by Biden, it is a common narrative. The AR-15 is classified as a “long gun,” which means it is designed to be fired from the shoulder. This is important to the home-defense narrative because shoulder-based firearms are substantially easier to operate with precision. Most shooters naturally have better aim with the support offered by a shoulder-placed firearm. Also, most models of the AR-15 offer an adjustable buttstock making it conducive to multiple members of the household.

Why not use your hunting rifle?

In addition to the point on magazine capacities and recoil, hunting rifles are significantly longer. The AR-15 typically averages in the lower 30″ range, whereas hunting rifles are typically low-to-mid 40″ range. This is important in home-defense since the extra 8″–10″ could easily get in the way in a hallway or going through a doorway.

In conclusion, the AR-15 is very practical and sensible for the American citizen. The media disproportionately reports violent uses of the AR-15 compared to when AR-15s are used to stop violence. The media and many who oppose the AR-15 will villainize it as a “weapon of war.” Aside from the 2nd Amendment argument that citizens should be allowed to have weapons of war, the statement is simply false. We would be doing our troops a disfavor by equipping them with AR-15s. While they are certainly useful for a broad range of close-to-midrange combat, they’re limited. The closest military comparison is the M4 service rifle, the military’s standard-issue rifle. The M4 is the least advanced rifle in the U.S. military’s continuum of weaponry, and the AR-15 is less advanced than the M4.

The woman mentioned earlier who fought off the armed intruders attacking her family would have been at a severe disadvantage without her AR-15. In addition to being outnumbered, she would have been outgunned. You can never know if and when you’ll be thrust into a situation like this — but if you are, it is best to be prepared, to protect the innocent against the evil.

John Wesley Reid is a Marine veteran who, while on active duty, was assigned to an executive security team for Presidents Bush and Obama. He’s a qualified expert on the M4 rifle and the M9 pistol. Follow John on Facebook and Twitter.