Letter: Debunking The Forum's editorial about gun safety laws

Smith writes, "Even if the Second Amendment was abolished, their arguments still wouldn’t make sense. "

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I write a lot about AR-15s, frequently pointing out that they are not substantially different from other commonly owned guns. The designation “assault weapon” or “assault-style” is fake and means nothing more than what a gun looks like, regardless of how they function.

The Forum recently published an editorial on June 10th, “ It’s time to bring sanity to our nation’s gun safety laws .” This editorial is full of factual misstatements. Let’s go through some of them

The Forum falsely claims, “[AR-15s are] the weapon of choice among mass shooters.”
The Violence Project, a site run by two criminologists, maintains a database of every mass shooting in the U.S., defined as four dead in a single incident, in a public space, not part of a broader crime. Their data ranges from 1966 through March 2021. In this time range, they identify 168 mass shootings (172 gunmen). “Assault weapons” of any kind were used in 45 shootings. Looking at AR-15 or AK-47 style guns specifically; they were used in 33 shootings. That is less than 20%. They are not the “weapon of choice.” By far the most common types of guns used are handguns, used in 131 shootings (78%). Many of these are in conjunction with other guns, but 76 shootings were exclusively with handguns. The Forum is mistaken.

The Forum misleadingly claims the wounds produced by the AR-15 are devastating (paraphrasing).
While this is technically true, it is only meaningful in relation to common handgun ammunition, such as 9mm. This talking point comes up because 95% of all homicides generally are with handguns, so rifle and shotgun wounds are uncommon. But comparing rifles to handguns is a dishonest apples-to-oranges comparison. An AR-15 is 3 feet long whereas a handgun can fit in your pocket. When the AR-15 is more appropriately compared to other rifles, the ammunition it fires is actually relatively weak. While it’s true it fires a high velocity bullet, the bullet itself is only a third of the size of other popular rifle calibers.

AR-15s fire what is called an “intermediate cartridge” which were specifically designed to not be powerful. The benefits of these weaker cartridges are that they are lightweight and low recoil. Power is what the designers gave up to achieve this. If The Forum wants to learn what rifles can really do, they should look at modern deer hunting cartridges. The AR-15 is a peashooter compared to those.


Smith writes, "None of them make sense. None of them would’ve stopped these shootings. These arguments are just people desperately flailing their arms around, calling for the government to 'do something,' offering nothing productive."

The Forum says people should have to demonstrate their ability to safely handle these “killing machines,” comparing it to how we require a commercial driver’s license for truck drivers.

The Forum has it backwards; AR-15s are easier and safer to shoot than other guns. An adult who has never touched a gun before would be able to hit a target at 100 yards within their first minute of picking up an AR-15. That’s how user-friendly they are. The same cannot be said for handguns which take significant practice to shoot accurately. If you were to teach a child gun safety (which every parent should do to avoid accidents), an AR-15 is one of the best platforms to teach with because of how soft-shooting they are. AR-15s being so simple is one of the reasons they are the best-selling rifle in the country. These are not machine guns; they do not spray bullets all over the place. They only shoot one at a time, just like every other gun that’s available to civilians. These are not military weapons.

In conclusion, The Forum’s editorial is not based in reality. This isn’t about the Second Amendment. Even if the Second Amendment was abolished, their arguments still wouldn’t make sense. The Forum invokes popular support for policies, but how many people get their knowledge from movies and video games? Why should those people’s opinions be worth anything? I suspect the author at the Forum is like this.

William Smith lives in Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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