The AR-15 Is A Civilian Weapon–Accounting For Less Than 2% Of Gun Deaths (EP.319)

The overwhelming majority gun deaths are done with handguns. Mass shootings, make up a small fraction of gun deaths every year.
The overwhelming majority gun deaths are done with handguns.


The AR-15 is a small caliber, high velocity, semi-automatic rifle. No military in the world would be caught dead using ARs against a force using real assault weapons.  In fact, they would be caught quite dead if they engaged an opposing force using real assault weapons.

“The overwhelming majority of all these deaths — suicides, accidents and homicides — are perpetrated with handguns. Mass shootings, while they may grab headlines for days or weeks at a time, make up a small fraction of gun deaths every year.” –Washington Post

That is the subject of today’s 10 minute episode.


Today’s Key Point: If you believe that semi-automatic rifles, with the possible exception of the .22 used to kill rats and other rodents on farms and to train young people, then make that argument. Do not either intentionally mislabel the AR to make your case, or simply believe those who are misleading you without doing 30 minutes of independent research to find the truth. (Enjoy this podcast, and I can save you 20 of those 30 minutes.)

It is axiomatic in mathematics that if you allow for one false claim, then you can easily prove a false conclusion. The most egregious example of this with the false labeling of the AR came from a recent video on MSNBC. The video opened up with the fully automatic M-16 pictured in a combat situation, with the host making the claim that the more familiar AR-15 was “just as deadly.” He was interviewing a guest, whose qualification as an “expert” was that he had a part in developing the AR. The expert was asked if the AR was, “Just as lethal as the M-16 in semi-automatic mode.” The answer was, “Yes, in semi-automatic mode.” That was enough for the host, who immediately labeled the AR as a “Weapon of war”. The rest of the video slammed Republican leaders who “touted” weapons of war, and said that like grenades, the Second Amendment did not protect ARs. An interesting conclusion, given that the 2A clearly protected the musket of the day, then the front line weapon of war rifle.

Any rifle more powerful than the .22 is going to be just as lethal as the M-16 in semi-automatic mode. The false claim, the lie, is that similar lethality in semi-auto mode makes the AR into an M-16, which is truly a weapon of war. Since early in our active involvement in Vietnam, all US military rifle “weapons of war” must be capable of fully automatic fire, a vital and often used feature, as well as semi-automatic fire. Has anyone seen movies or video games depicting combat using rifles where fully automatic fire was not the dominant mode? The highly successful Israeli Defense Force uses the Tavor 21, capable of fully auto fire. As it must be. The venerable AR-47, used by just about every other military, is fully automatic, and has been around since 1947. 

Let’s step back from looking at semi-auto rifles, and examine what the overall goal is with gun control. Is the goal to reduce as fast as possible, using the resources at hand, all gun homicides? Or is the goal to get rid of as many ARs as fast as possible? What is the goal, and why is it not to eliminate as many gun homicides as fast as possible? As usual at Revolution 2.0™, we look at data before answering questions and coming to conclusions.

Let’s hear from the Washington Post, hardly a conservative icon. “Unfortunately, gun-control advocates have used the appearance of semiautomatic rifles, which some people find menacing, to exaggerate the dangers the general public faces from their existence. Far more important than the cosmetic similarities and technical differences among firearms are which weapons actually are used in the majority of gun deaths and victimizations.

About two-thirds of gun deaths every year in the United States are suicides, making up about half of all U.S. suicides. A relatively small number of people are killed in accidents, but the bulk of the remaining homicides stem from urban street-level shootings and domestic violence. The overwhelming majority of all these deaths — suicides, accidents and homicides — are perpetrated with handguns. Mass shootings, while they may grab headlines for days or weeks at a time, make up a small fraction of gun deaths every year. Even in those high-profile tragedies, however, handguns are far more common than semi automatic rifles.”

In case you thought that the WAPO was alone in the liberal world in this thinking, let’s turn to the New York Times, “The continuing focus on assault weapons stems from the media’s obsessive focus on mass shootings, which disproportionately involve weapons like the AR-15, a civilian version of the military M16 rifle. This, in turn, obscures some grim truths about who is really dying from gunshots.

Annually, 5,000 to 6,000 black men are murdered with guns. Black men amount to only 6 percent of the population. Yet of the 30 Americans on average shot to death each day, half are black males.

It was much the same in the early 1990s when Democrats created and then banned a category of guns they called ‘assault weapons.’ America was then suffering from a spike in gun crime and it seemed like a problem threatening everyone. Gun murders each year had been climbing: 11,000, then 13,000, then 17,000.

Democrats decided to push for a ban of what seemed like the most dangerous guns in America: assault weapons, which were presented by the media as the gun of choice for drug dealers and criminals, and which many in law enforcement wanted to get off the streets.

This politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with ‘military-style’ features — only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.

Handguns were used in more than 80 percent of gun murders each year, but gun control advocates had failed to interest enough of the public in a handgun ban. Handguns were the weapons most likely to kill you, but they were associated by the public with self-defense.”

When any person or group professes to tackle a large, worthy goal, e.g., reducing gun deaths through legislation, then focuses on only the tiniest part of the problem, i.e., so-called weapons of war, I believe what they are doing, not what they are saying. Here’s what I believe. Liberal politicians want to ban the AR not because they see it as an assault weapon used by the military, but because they see it as a white weapon used by white supremacists. The greatest single source of murders is blacks killing other blacks with handguns. If you truly want to stop homicide by gunfire, if indeed Black Lives really do Matter, this is where you start. But the gun control folks do not want to go there because 1. It might appear racist, while it would actually be the very loving opposite, and 2. It would be damn hard, requiring far more than legislation; it would require one-on-one efforts over time. And very little media coverage, and even less applause. 

With even a cursory examination, it is obvious that the AR is not a weapon of war, assault or not. It takes about a minute to begin to see that handguns are the main cause of gun deaths, and where they happen. The narrative about ARs is a huge and loudly repeated lie. Gun slaughter will continue until we have the political and personal courage to address the real problem.

Did today’s episode stir up any new thoughts for you? If so, what might you be doing differently?

Tell me what you believe. I and many others want to know. 

As always, whatever you do, do it in love. Without love, anything we do is empty. 1 Corinthians 16:14


As we get ready to wrap up, please do respond in the episodes with comments or questions about this episode or anything that comes to mind, or connect with me on Twitter, @willluden, Facebook,, and LinkedIn, And you can subscribe on your favorite device through Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Will Luden, coming to you from 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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One Response

  1. Charles Cabral Reply

    I’m still hung up on the introductory phrase (13 of the 27 words) of the 2nd Amendment “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”. The purpose was to imply that either the people should be armed to assist the state or to protect themselves from the state. Either way, it states that the militia (civilian based military force) should be well-regulated. I’m not sure where this goes but it does seem to imply that banning military-style weapons is not constitutional, while allowing unregulated ownership and display of firearms is not guaranteed by the constitution. (Insert perplexed emoji here)

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