ARs Are Weapons of War. So What?

By Chris Hernandez

I have a message for my pro-2nd Amendment friends: guys, we don’t have to pretend our ARs aren’t military weapons. One topic central to the gun control debate is whether or not AR-type rifles are “weapons of war” with no purpose in civilian hands. The anti-gun side points out the obvious similarities between an AR-15 and an M-16, and insists citizens have no right or reason to own either one. Gun rights advocates stress an AR’s inability to fire on full automatic and insist that makes them wholly unsuitable for military service . . .

In my experience, the anti-gun side typically engages in more snarky, insulting rhetoric than the pro-gun side does. Gun control advocates call gun owners stupid, say we’re all paranoid, and accuse us of being violent hicks (or even worse, say we own guns to compensate for our [gasp!] small penises). But that reverses when the question of whether or not “assault rifles” are military weapons arises. Then we gun owners become the snarky, insulting ones.

Last week I watched an interview with a gun rights advocate on Fox News. He insisted that an AR has almost nothing in common with a military rifle because it’s not fully automatic. He laughed at Megyn Kelly’s suggestion that they were almost the same, and claimed nobody he knew in the military would ever carry an AR in combat.

I call BS on that one. I carried a semiauto-only M14 in Afghanistan as my primary weapon. I’ve fired my personal AR in a military marksmanship and close quarters combat competition, against other shooters with issued M4 carbines. I’ve trained with my personal AR at close and medium range targets, against moving targets and against multiple targets. The entire reason I bought an AR was because it’s a military weapon. I wanted to train with almost the same weapon I might carry in combat. If I was downrange and armed with my personal AR instead of an issued weapon, I wouldn’t feel the least bit uncomfortable with it.

When someone says, “But the AR isn’t fully automatic,” I respond, “So what?” In a rifle, full auto fire has limited tactical worth. It’s not often that we fire our weapons on burst (currently issued M16s and M4s fire 3 round burst, not full auto) because it’s inaccurate and burns a lot of ammo. We emphasize carefully aimed fire, not “spray and pray” like the Taliban. We often make fun of our enemies, and sometimes our allies, because of their tendency to dump rounds on full auto every time they pull a trigger. A fully automatic rifle certainly can be a useful tool, but isn’t a drop-dead necessity in combat. And among poorly supplied fighters, it quickly depletes meager stocks of ammo.

As far as I’m concerned, ARs are for all practical purposes military weapons. But before any of my gun-rights brothers accuse me of betraying the cause, let me follow up with this statement: there’s nothing wrong with the fact that they’re military weapons. It’s a good thing.

Despite what the Huffington Post or Mother Jones publishes, the 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting or sport shooting. It’s about the citizens’ right to resist tyranny. About 5 seconds of Googling turns up this quote, among many others, on Wikipedia:

“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.” -Noah Webster (writing under the nom de plume of “A Citizen of America”), An Examination Into the Leading Principles of the Constitution (October 17, 1787)

Noah Webster and his fellow founding fathers wanted us to be armed in order to resist government tyranny should the need arise. Therefore, it follows that we have the right to possess weapons capable of resisting tyrannical government forces. An AR gives the citizen that capability.

Anti-gun people typically say at this point, “You think you can fight the government? Well then you’d have to own tanks, airplanes, machine guns and nuclear bombs. If you just had rifles, you wouldn’t have a chance.”

No we don’t need to own tanks, fighter planes and nuclear weapons, and yes we would have a chance. Insurgents who are often armed only with AKs have been giving us a pretty good fight for more than ten years. Even with our overwhelming air and indirect fire assets, we haven’t rolled over the Taliban. They operate among the population, travel light, strike quickly and melt away, just like rebels in America would. Air strikes and artillery don’t do much good if you can’t figure out where to put them.

Those who insist Americans armed only with rifles would be helpless against a professional military consistently ignore the lengths our military goes to in order to avoid civilian casualties. Whenever someone in the anti-gun camp insists our military would respond to a single rifle shot with a brutal onslaught of weaponry, I remind them we don’t even do that overseas. I’ve been in a couple of firefights where the Taliban were shooting from houses, and we couldn’t use supporting arms to hit those houses. In Afghanistan, and here, killing civilians only strengthens resistance against us. We tried to avoid killing civilians from another culture in another country, so why does anyone think our military wouldn’t care about civilian casualties in America?

Besides that, rebels or insurgents in any conflict don’t always have to win. Sometimes they just have to delay or inhibit government forces. Sometimes they only have to make a point.

I’ve read a lot of comments and articles from the anti-gun side, and I’m fairly certain the next comment coming from many of their mouths is, “This guy is a paranoid psycho who thinks the government is coming for his guns.” No, I’m not. As a cop, I know better than most how impossible that would be. I don’t accuse the current administration of tyranny and have never referred to our President as a tyrant. A review of my blog posts will prove that. I think many on the pro-gun side are too quick to throw out words like “dictatorship”. Our government is far from becoming a dictatorship.

An unknown, very intelligent man said we can resist tyranny with the soap box, ballot box and ammo box. We’re nowhere near the ammo box, and I can’t see us reaching for it for in my lifetime. But I understand the Bill of Rights wasn’t written only for the 1700s, or only the 1800s, or 1900s, or 2013. It was written to address immutable human nature. Noah Webster and his friends knew that once humans have power, there is always a danger that they’ll abuse or illegally expand that power.

“Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.” -Tench Coxe, Federal Gazette, June 18,1789, A friend of James Madison, writing in support of the Madison’s first draft of the Bill of Rights

We Americans have a right and duty to resist tyranny, should it arise. We keep military weapons in order prevent our government from becoming tyrannical, and to fight back if it does. Those who wish to remove military weapons from our hands, on the pretext that “you don’t need them for hunting or home defense”, are woefully ignorant of the basis for the 2nd Amendment. Or more likely, they think the 2nd Amendment is stupid and obsolete, and maybe even wish for total gun confiscations but know better than to admit it publicly. Either way, they’re no friend to our freedom.

If someone angrily tells one of my pro-2nd Amendment friends that an AR is a “weapon of war”, I’d ask them to proudly respond, “You’re damn right it is.” When law-abiding, sensible citizens buy and shoot ARs and AKs, they’re not presenting a threat to the public or to the government. They’re exercising their rights exactly as Noah Webster and Tenche Cox hoped they would.

That’s not something we should be ashamed of.


This post originally appeared at and is reprinted here with permission. Chris is an active law enforcement officer in Texas who splits his time between military and police work. He’s also the author of Proof of Our Resolve.