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Monday, June 20, 2016
MRC Denies Military Heritage of AR-15 Rifle
Topic: Media Research Center

Following the Orlando massacre, the Media Research Center immediately and predictably turned into agents for the gun lobby, insisting that only Islam, not gun control, was the issue that needed to be addressed. Also predictably, the MRC has peddled some dishonest propaganda in the process.

In a June 13 post, Nicholas Fondacaro complained that some in the media were calling the AR-15 rifle, which shooter Omar Makeem was originally believed to have used in committing the massacre, was "built for the military" and is a "weapon of war." FOndacaro insisted that the AR-15 "it’s not a 'weapon of war.' The AR-15 was designed to replicate the look of military weapons, a benefit being their ergonomic design. If a buyer wanted, they could purchase a weapon made of wood with same capabilities as an AR, but look nothing like it."

Maggie McKneely used the same argument in a June 14 post, asserting that "assault weapons, such as the oft-demonized AR-15, are not weapons of war. They are designed to look like military weapons due to their ergonomic design, but lack the automatic capabilities. The only difference between the AR-15 that the media loves to hate and a common ranch shotgun is how they look."

But as the Washington Post explains, the AR-15 "is a civilian variant of the military’s M-16 series of rifles and carbines." The Post points out that the AR-15 has a long history with the military:

The AR-15’s combination of portability, relatively light weight (about 8 to 9 pounds loaded) and customization options make it attractive for both close- and medium- to long-range engagements and the preferred weapon used to kill the enemies of the United States. The military variants are customized and used by every branch of the military for myriad missions, including clearing oil rigs and patrolling the large expanses of Afghanistan.

Although the AR-15 has been standard issue for American service members for decades, the weapon’s ascension to a nationwide staple is a bit of a mystery. Conceived by a company started in a Hollywood garage and solicited by an unlikely trio made up of an aeronautical engineer, an arms salesman and a Marine, the AR-15, (AR standing for ArmaLite Rifle) was born in the late 1950s and came of age during the Vietnam War as an answer to Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47.

Chronicled extensively in New York Times reporter C.J. Chivers’s book “The GUN,” the AR-15, and eventually the M-16, was introduced as a replacement for the U.S. military’s M-14, a long large-caliber rifle based on an older World War II design. A small number of AR-15s were first bought by the Air Force in 1962 after a bit of salesmanship by Colt Firearms executives (Colt bought ArmaLite in 1959), that involved a pair of exploding watermelons and a general who disliked the M-14. With the Air Force’s initial purchase, the AR-15 entered the U.S. military’s arms procurement pipeline.

While one may quibble over how closely a civilian AR-15 resembles a military model, it's undeniable that the rifle has a military heritage, and it's dishonest for the MRC to deny it.

McKneely, meanwhile, tried to pile on, chortling at how "recent reports show that the Orlando shooter didn’t even use an AR-15 rifle." Turns out that's true -- the weapon used was a Sig Sauer MCX rifle, a different family of products from the AR-15. But as the Post also notes, the MCX was "originally designed for U.S. Special Operations forces," meaning that it too has a military heritage.

And, thus, the MRC's attempt to play interference on behalf of the gun lobby ends in complete failure.


Posted by Terry K. at 6:29 PM EDT

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