America’s Rifle No More?
Published May 6, 2019 / Updated August 5, 2020

America’s Rifle No More?

The AR-15 and similar weapons could be coming to a ban list near you.

by Ember Urbach

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Photo by Igor At Work

The AR-15 is a firearm I didn’t know much about, until 2012. It’s “America’s Rifle,” according to the National Rifle Association, and a civilian version of the military M4. The AR-15 is the semi-automatic assault weapon that was used in the Sandy Hook Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. It was used in notorious mass shootings in Aurora, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Southerland Springs, and Parkland.

The AR-15, and similar semiautomatic weapons like the AK-47, AR-10, Berretta AR-70, and R-15 are particularly concerning because they allow the user to fire small but high velocity rounds very quickly, and can inflict lethal damage. Injuries from AR-15s and similar long guns are distinctly different than those sustained from a handgun. A handgun injury will appear as a laceration through an organ, a thin line through a liver, for example. When ammunition from an AR-15 hits an organ, it can look like “an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer,” annihilating the organ and causing death.

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and 28 co-sponsors have introduced S.66 — Assault Weapons Ban of 2019. Still in committee, this companion bill to H.R. 1296 (sponsored by David Cicilline (D-RI)) aims to “regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes.”

Your Safety Matters

Proponents of an assault weapons ban point to the horrific damage these weapons can cause and the extraordinary speed with which they can inflict it, but the 2019 assault weapons ban suffers from many of the same issues as its 1990s namesake. It describes the accessories and visual stylings of the firearm rather than the characteristics which actually make these weapons deadly: muzzle velocity and rate of fire.

Cosmetic or not, the expiration of the Clinton-era assault weapons ban correlates strongly to the uptick in mass shootings perpetrated with military style assault weapons. The right to bear arms is protected in the Constitution but Congress’ right to restrict the kinds of firearms available has been undisputed since the 1930s. If mere cosmetic restriction can keep deadly weapons out of the hands of domestic terrorists, that’s a compromise worth celebrating.

Tell Congress What You Think

Let Congress know how you feel about The Assault Weapon Ban of 2019. You can ask your Representative, Senators, Governor, or all of the above to speak out on this or any other issue by texting RESIST to 50409. Or, if SMS isn’t your style, you can contact your government by talking to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or Twitter.

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