No, Your AR-15 Is Not the Problem

Why do Democrats want to take away your AR-15? The fact that such a weapon was used by the Odessa shooter was the basis for Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s infamous declaration: “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47!” But this is like banning cars because automobile accidents kill more than 40,000 Americans a year, or banning tall buildings because more than 35,000 Americans die each year from accidental falls. O’Rourke is advocating what might be called the Instrumental Theory of Evil: The cause of our problems is not bad people, but bad things. Therefore, ban the evil things!

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke dismissed criticism and “hang-wringing” about his much-discussed debate statement that “Hell yes” he wants to confiscate assault weapons, saying those concerns “just show you how screwed up the priorities in Washington, D.C., are.”
“I refuse to even acknowledge the politics or the polling or the fear or the NRA,” O’Rourke told “NBC’s Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday. “That has purchased the complicity and silence of members of Congress.”

See, according to O’Rourke, the reason we have not yet banned the evil AR-15 is because, unlike him, other people lack courage and integrity. Democrats believe guns are evil, and therefore only bad people own guns, which means that prejudice against gun owners is a virtue. This explains why the campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination has become a contest to see who hates gun owners the most. Does it matter that the premise of their argument is demonstrably wrong?

In 1994, a ten-year prohibition on the manufacture, possession, and transfer of certain “semiautomatic assault weapons” was signed into law.
And what was the result of this ban? . . . A Justice Department report examining the impact of the ban was underwhelming at best. “Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement,” the report states.
The report goes on to explain that the law’s larger impact on overall gun violence was minimal, because the banned weapons were rarely involved in criminal acts in the first place. According to the FBI, rifles — a broader category that lumps together your grandpappy’s hunting rifle with military-style rifles — constitute an average of 340 homicides per year. Though any loss of life is tragic, these numbers don’t exactly rise to the occasion in solving what is commonly characterized as a national epidemic. . . .
Between 2007 and 2018, 173 people were killed by mass shooters using an AR-15, according to a New York Times analysis — roughly, 15 per year. (For perspective, 13 people die per year from vending machines falling on them.) The fearmongering regarding this weapon becomes even more apparent when one considers the estimated 8 million AR-15s currently in circulation — the vast majority of which will never be involved in a crime.

So, just to make sure everybody’s got this in proper perspective: According to the FBI, there were 17,284 murders in the United States. Also, according to the FBI, in an average year, rifles are the weapons used in 340 homicides. Simple math tells us that rifles — all rifles, of every kind — are used in less than 2% of U.S. murders, and AR-15s account for only a tiny fraction (0.09%) of U.S. murders.

Even if we banned all rifles, 98% of murders would still happen, and banning AR-15s wouldn’t even reduce murders by one-tenth of 1%! Yet the audience at the Democrat debate erupted in applause when O’Rourke promised that “we” (i.e., Democrats) are “going to take your AR-15.”

Democrats hate you. They really, really hate you.