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The Facts About Rifles and Crime

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AR15 Semi Auto Assault Weapon Black Rifles
AR15 Semi Auto Assault Weapon Black Rifles

United States – -( When it comes to our Second Amendment rights, one major flashpoint seems to be over the modern multi-purpose semiautomatic firearms, particularly the AR-15. Now, for those of us who are familiar with Justice Department statistics, we know that rifles are rarely used in murders – in fact, you’re more at risk from fists and feet – 696 to 403 in 2017, the last full year of stats available at this writing.

In fact, the total number of people killed by rifles of ALL types (not just the AR-15 that people like Beto O’Rourke and Eric Swalwell are demanding people be ready to turn in) for the last five years is less than the total number of people killed by knives in 2017 alone (1,582 to 1,591). Tell that to an average American in normal circumstances, and they’d come away with a clear sense that the AR-15 is not the problem.

So why are anti-Second Amendment extremists getting so much mileage from proposals to ban the AR-15? Well, the reason is that mass shootings in public, like those in El Paso and Dayton, get a lot of media coverage. Why? Because they are rare. Recent research by the Crime Prevention Research Center shows that there were 71 such shootings from 1998 through June of 2019. Now, anti-Second Amendment extremists try to mess around with the definition, but CPRC uses the FBI’s definition.

The fact is basic journalism tenets do call for rare events to get a lot of coverage. As I learned in middle school journalism class, “Dog bites man” is not a story, but “man bites dog” is newsworthy. Then, there is also another one, less discussed in middle school and high school, but you probably have heard of “If it bleeds, it leads.”

The fact is, in many of the worst mass shootings, like Las Vegas, Newtown, Parkland, and elsewhere, the weapon used is an AR-15 or some similar rifle. It is also rare, as the CPRC research shows. According to their data on mass shootings in public places, the weapon most of the shooters use is a handgun, either on its own, or in conjunction with a long gun. Rifles are involved in one way or another with 28 percent of mass shootings. With handguns, it’s 87 percent. (The figures add up to more than 100 percent because some of the mass shooters will use more than one weapon.)

So, there is “newsworthiness” in those shootings, and under normal journalistic standards, they would generate an outsized amount of coverage. But we are dealing with a national media that outside of some outlets like Fox News, generally imposes double standards to the benefit of anti-Second Amendment extremists.

Some of that is due to the specifics of the victims and other items. In Newtown, most of the victims were six-year-old kids. That would grab a lot of attention – and rightly so. We all were horrified. Second Amendment supporters, though, had to shift gears mentally to defend themselves from the injustices President Obama wanted to inflict upon millions of law-abiding American for that act of madness which they had nothing to do with. Thankfully, the NRA and other pro-Second Amendment groups managed to defeat Obama’s effort.

However, the real problem is that with media complicity, anti-Second Amendment extremists have managed to paint a picture that is at odds with the facts for the purpose of frightening millions of Americans into unjustly infringing on the rights of fellow Americans. This has been a campaign going back three decades, egged on by Josh Sugarmann, who urged that anti-Second Amendment extremists exploit confusion and the cosmetic features of rifles like the AR-15 to advance the assault on our rights.

Beating back this assault will not be easy. Already we have seen Beto O’Rourke push corporate gun control, particularly the financial blacklisting of gun manufacturers that do not embrace the anti-Second Amendment agenda he is pushing. But if Second Amendment supporters can lay out the facts in a manner that comes across well, they will have a fighting chance.

Harold Hu, chison

About Harold Hutchison

Writer Harold Hutchison has more than a dozen years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post,, and other national websites.

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