Modern sporting rifles: Recent survey casts doubt on anti-gun claims

The modern sporting rifle has been the whipping boy of the anti-gun media and politicians for decades. The majority of the feigned outrage has been based on how the guns look, with an unhealthy dose of complete lies thrown in for good measure.

The endplay, of course, is the confiscation of all guns.  An unarmed populace is far easier to control than a well armed one.  Until an oppressive regime can be completely realized, anti-freedom groups hammer at the edges, trying to convince the ignorant and the uninformed to accept small encroachments on liberty.  If one class of firearms can be deemed unacceptable, it becomes a stepping-stone to the next infringement.

Currently, one of the most popular attack vectors is the vilification of the modern sporting rifle (MSR).  A MSR can be defined in a number of ways, but generally they are semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines.  Many of them appear similar to military firearms.  For example, the AR-15 is similar to the M-4.  Others bear no such resemblance but are castigated just the same.

Liars latch onto the looks of the rifles and hold them up as “military-style” rifles or “assault weapons,” knowing that the gullible will think they are actual military rifles or assault rifles.  Real assault rifles have distinct characteristics not found in civilian-legal MSRs, such as select-fire (automatic firing) capability.

To further demonize MSRs, the anti-freedom cretins claim the rifles have no legitimate use for hunting or sports shooting, and that the guns are designed for murder only.  Anyone who does much shooting will know these statements are patently false, and, in any event, have no relevance to our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) sponsored a survey of almost 22,000 self-indentified owners of MSRs.  The surveys were completed online between April and May of this year.  The purpose of the survey was to assist gun retailers and the industry to better understand a segment of the shooting market.  However, the survey also helps for refute the lies of those who seek to disarm you.

Contrary to what many hoplophobes say, the AR-15 is not a fringe weapon, purchased only by people who are attempting to compensate for some imagined inadequacy.  In fact, the opposite is quite true. MSR owners tend to be well-established, mature members of the community.  More than 60% of MSR owners are older than 45 years of age, and more than 75% are married.  Additionally, more than half of MSR owners have an income greater than $75,000.

The average owner of a modern sporting rifle owns 3.1 of the guns.  This includes AR-platform guns, AK-platform guns and similar rifles with detachable magazines.  The average MSR purchase price was $1,058, with those surveyed spending an additional $381 (on average) for MSR accessories.  That makes an average of more than $4400 of firearms investments made by each MSR owner.  That figure does not include any of the other firearms that are owned by these shooters.  One could easily surmise that MSR owners are successful in business and life, not nutjobs with murderous intent.

While the Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting, gun grabbers like to make hunting something of a litmus test for the “worthiness” of a firearm.  In the talking points, an AR-15 or other MSR is never used as a hunting rifle, so it is therefore not a reasonable gun to sell or own.

While I reject the basic premise of the hunting argument, the facts about hunting don’t even support the gun-grabbers’ position.  Roughly half of the NSSF survey participants use a modern sporting rifle for hunting purposes.  I daresay that in certain kinds of hunting, such as hog and varmint, AR-style rifles might be the dominant rifle used.

Nearly 20% of owners use the guns in some form of competition, also showing the lack of “sporting purpose” claim to be false.  Three-gun competitions are becoming very popular, and the MSR is an integral part of those events.  The NSSF survey also revealed that 40% of MSR owners shoot the guns at least once a month, and more than 90% of owners enjoy some form of target practice with the guns.

Owners of the AR-15, AK-47 and other modern sporting rifles are not fringe elements of the shooting community.  They are some of the most involved and active shooters in our midst.  They are hunters, marksmen, sportsmen and your next door neighbor concerned about home defense.  To paraphrase Walt Kelly, “We have met the MSR owner, and he is us.”