By Dan Kidder
CEO/Chief Instructor
On Target Defensive Training

This article will be controversial. I believe that is a good thing. Controversy is intended to make people think, rather than just accept the standard bullet points they are fed by those who seek to influence them. Both sides of this debate are guilty of rehashing the same tired talking points. This will be a new thought to many; one they have likely not considered before.

To give you some background, many would consider me an expert on the subject. I have spent the last 26 years of my life teaching about firearms, including teaching police officers and federal agents. I have testified in court on the subject, as a firearms expert witness. I write about firearms for a major national magazine. So beyond my own conflated opinion on the subject, many others also consider me an expert on the subject of defensive firearms and their use.

So, you have to be asking by now, why on Earth would I favor terrorists having easy access to the AR 15 rifle? Let's get some issues about this controversial rifle out of the way first.

The AR in the name of the rifle does not stand for Assault Rifle. It stands for Armalite Rifle, the original manufacturer and designer of the gun in the 1950s. The version available to the general public fires a single shot every time the trigger is pulled and uses an intermediate powered rifle cartridge with a 62-grain bullet that is 5.56 millimeters in diameter. The standard cartridge for this rifle has the designation of M855 by the military and a velocity of 2,970 feet per second. My 7-millimeter magnum bolt-action hunting rifle fires a 160 grain bullet at a velocity of 3,000 feet per second. To explain what this means, we consider, in simplified terms, that the force a bullet makes on impact is a measure of the speed times the weight. My hunting rifle delivers a bullet two and a half times heavier than the AR15 at a slightly higher speed. The damage from this projectile is much, much worse than that of the AR15.

Having said that, there are a few reasons I would prefer that terrorists have easy access to the AR15. First is lethality. In the world of firearms, the AR15 is one of the less lethal guns that could be used. Depending upon the ammunition used, a shot from an AR15 is less likely to kill than a shot from another gun. Obviously,  shot placement is a factor, but a victim can withstand multiple shots from an AR15 to non-vital areas that would be lethal if hit with even a single shot from a more powerful rifle. Additionally, these guns have been given magical qualities in video games and movies, which mistakenly cause the terrorist to believe it is capable of far more than it actually is. This makes it a first choice for a terrorist who has little actual training in firearms.

Second, I want them to choose a gun. Very simply put, a gun is a better choice from my perspective as a possible victim of terrorism, than other options. On September 11, 2001 we saw first-hand what happens when terrorists use something other than a gun. More than 3,000 casualties were inflicted when 4 aircraft were hijacked and used as weapons.  Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 people with a truck full of diesel fuel and fertilizer. If the terrorists were unable to purchase their first choice weapon, a gun, then the death toll would be much higher than it would be otherwise.

Third, a gun is easier to defend against. How does one defend themselves against a sudden explosion? As horrible as the attack in the Pulse Nightclub was, had the hundreds of people there rushed the shooter, he would have quickly become overpowered. Furthermore, Florida gun laws prevented any of them from also having a gun. Had they been permitted to be armed, and acted upon that right, they could have fought back and killed the attacker. They would have at least stood a fighting chance, rather than being placed defenseless at the mercy of a merciless killer.

Fourth, if they can get it, then so can I. It is very simple; I want access to the same weapons that my attackers might use. I want to be on equal footing should terrorists or criminals come to my house. While the power of the AR15 is limited, it does have the ability to hold multiple rounds that make it very effective as a defensive weapon, especially against multiple attackers. If it is readily available to them, that means that it is also readily available to me. Regular folks like us are going to obtain our AR15s through legal channels. Since there are already more than 10 million of these guns in the hands of private citizens, it is likely that a terrorist could obtain his without going through a background check, either by stealing them or buying one from an unscrupulous person who doesn't care about breaking the law. To make matters worse, the President provided Syrian rebels with thousands of full-auto variants that are actually assault rifles, and these are now in the hands of Daesh.

In reality, I wish there was a way to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on any weapon, but as long as we keep allowing them to flood our country freely, radicalizing others they encounter, there is no way to prevent them from getting their hands on powerful weapons that can kill thousands. The best answer is to limit who we allow to enter our country, and seek to wipe out the threat of radical Islamists in their own countries before they can come here. Instead, our current leaders not only are incapable of identifying the source of the problem, they have recently given one of the largest sponsors of terror the means to make nuclear weapons, which could be used against us.

If I had to choose which weapon I would prefer a terrorist use, I would much prefer they use an intermediate modern sporting rifle to a nuke. And that is why I want terrorists to have easy access to the AR15.

About the author: In addition to his job as managing editor of Sportsman’s News, Dan Kidder is an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor, a former range safety officer for the National Rifle Association Headquarters Range in Fairfax, VA, and a former Marine. He has worked with hundreds of students, including members of local and federal law enforcement, as well as beginning shooters.

The cost of ignorance is far higher than the price of our training.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Dan Kidder •BCI/ NRA Certified Instructor • (435) 868-8919 • Cedar City, UT

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