4 minute read

An astonishing number of people in our nation believe they must have guns, and not just guns, but military-style weapons like the AR-15 used to kill 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. These people were scammed into buying the wrong home security device. 

Gun owners frequently argue that they need to own such weapons to defend themselves, their families and homes from those who might take all those things away. And during its past four decades of overweening influence in society and government, the National Rifle Association convinced these same people that the government wanted to take its guns away. 

This was a brilliant, double-sided threat that made millions of people distrust the government while forcing that same government into NRA obeisance. And then they convinced these people to purchase offensive weapons for defensive purposes. 

OPINION by George Lang

The AR-15 is classified as an assault-style rifle, though the “AR” in its name refers to ArmaLite, the company that first built the weapon. Cornell University Law School defines assault as “intentionally putting another person in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.” 

In 1956, when Eugene Stoner designed the M-16 for the U.S. military, it was to provide soldiers with a simple-to-use weapon that could shoot full-auto with the power and coverage of several guns. 

The M-16 achieved that by using small-caliber bullets with a big powder charge to allow for lighter weight, more storage, and better portability while maintaining the killing power of much larger calibered weapons. It is what you need when facing a company of soldiers or you need to demobilize an enemy’s convoy of vehicles. 

The AR-15 was then developed for sale to civilians as a semi-automatic weapon. Over the years, after-market parts and devices have created the ability to give it full-auto-type firing rates.

It is the perfect weapon for people who do not mind a few hundred bullets strafing their house, its inhabitants, and possibly next door neighbors while they incapacitate a single home invader. 

In contrast, a handgun would be easier to access and arm, as well as to articulate and aim. While I am not in favor of weapons in general, I can understand private citizens owning pistols of some sort for home defense and single-action rifles for hunting. But most people who do not work for private defense contractors have no business owning an AR-15-style rifle.

Like the M-16, the AR-15 engineering is still that of an offensive weapon. Yet, marketing campaigns continue to position it as a weapon for home defense.

Tradition of deadly assault

A Georgia-based company called Daniel Defense built the DDM4, the AR-15-style rifle that Salvador Ramos used to kill those children and adults in Uvalde. Stephen Paddock used another Daniel Defense-manufactured AR-15 to kill 58 people at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. 

Daniel Defense pulled out of last week’s NRA convention not long after Ramos’ attack on the Uvalde elementary school. What makes this particular company interesting beyond its recent headlines is how it markets its weapons. 

According to the Washington Post, Daniel Defense tweeted a photo days before the Uvalde shooting of a toddler-age boy holding an AR-15 accompanied by a quote from Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

This advertising is designed to establish a tradition of deadly assault, and used Christianity to sell it. 

Mass shootings plummeted during the assault weapons ban that lasted from 1994 to 2004, but when President George W. Bush allowed the ban to sunset, weapons manufacturers used the specter of its possible reinstatement to market the AR-15s. 

The marketing was part fear and part FOMO, and the manufacturers proliferated from a handful to more than 500, all making what is essentially the same weapon. They stand apart from the crowd based on incendiary marketing strategies that leverage paranoia. 

But when their guns are used to kill mass amounts of innocent people, they duck out from the NRA convention and quickly post “thoughts and prayers” on social media. 

Marketing is part of the problem. For home security, an AR-15 is like buying a chainsaw to trim your fingernails.


Feature photo published under Creative Commons license – credit: Brian Bennett on Flickr.com.

Last Updated June 1, 2022, 1:26 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor