House Democrats accidentally prove just how popular and common AR-15s really are

The purpose of today’s House Oversight Committee hearing on “gun violence” is to portray U.S. gun makers as monsters that are intentionally putting profits head of innocent lives by selling “weapons of war” to children, as committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) outrageously claimed as the hearing got underway Wednesday morning.

Even before the hearing began House Democrats were advancing that narrative, releasing a statement on Thursday morning that claimed major manufacturers have “collected more than $1 billion over the last decade from sale of military-style assault weapons to civilians” and alleging that in doing so the companies “use disturbing sales tactics—including marketing deadly weapons as a way for young men to prove their masculinity and selling guns to mass shooters on credit—while failing to take basic steps to monitor the violence their products unleashed.”

It’s a narrative the media has been quick to parrot, as seen in this piece from NBC News.

Daniel Defense, the company that made the rifle used by the Uvalde gunman, took in over $120 million in AR-15-style rifle sales in 2021, compared with $40 million in 2019, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Sturm, Ruger & Company also saw its gross earnings nearly triple in the same timeframe from $39 million to over $103 million, the panel said, citing internal financial data it obtained.

Smith & Wesson — which sold the high-powered weapons used in the Fourth of July massacre in Highland Park, Illinois — saw its revenue from all long guns more than doubled between from $108 million to $253 million in that time period.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone given the surge in gun sales that began with the first round of COVID-19 lockdowns in March of 2020 and has only slightly abated in the months since. I’m sure the sales of handguns have surged as well, leading to even more profit for these manufacturers (or at least the ones that make pistols).

The focus of today’s hearing, however, is to demonize semi-automatic rifles as well as those who make, sell, purchase, and own them. To that end, there’s been almost no mention so far of handguns even though they are used far more frequently in violent crimes in general and in active shooter incidents specifically.

Maloney declared that AR-15s are the weapon of choice for mass murderers, but a recent FBI report on active shooting incidents in 2021 proves that to be false. Of the 61 incidents recorded by the FBI, just 10 explicitly involved the use of a rifle while there were 42 incidents that involved only handguns. At the very time in which sales of AR-style rifles were exploding, the vast majority of gun-involved crimes (including high-profile active shooter incidents) continued to see handguns and not modern sporting rifles as criminals’ “weapon of choice.”

So who bought all those semi-automatic rifles over the past couple of years? Law-abiding citizens, who purchased them for home defense, hunting, competitive shooting, or even as their “just in case the sh*t hits the fan” gun. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates there are now nearly 25-million modern sporting rifles in the hands of American gun owners; more common than even Ford F-150 pickup trucks, and yet the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report data shows that there were fewer homicides involving rifles of any kind than homicides in which knives, blunt objects, and even fist and feet were used as murder weapons. Modern sporting rifles aren’t the weapons of choice for violent criminals of any stripe, but they are the most popular choice for law-abiding Americans looking for a new rifle these days.

Ironically, while House Democrats are trying to advance a false narrative that these guns are only meant for murder, by highlighting the surge in sales of these firearms over the past couple of years they’ve only demonstrated just how commonly-owned and popular these firearms are with the American public. Of course, that won’t be how the media covers today’s hearing and the narrative put forth by Democrats in the House, but the truth is undeniable… at least for those willing to look at the facts.