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Despite the presumption underlying‘s commentary on “assault rifles,” sales of modern sporting rifles (MSRs) aren’t really “booming.” They’re healthy enough, to be sure. But as we revealed in a previous post, the big companies who produced a plethora of ARs after the Newtown massacre are experiencing an enormous “assault rifle” hangover. The sales channels are stuffed with MSRs. Prices are dropping. Anyway, writer Robert J. Spitzer offers this analysis of the MSRs’ popularity . . .

First, assault weapons acquisition has become a form of political expression. Many have noted increases in firearms sales keyed both to the election cycle, notably Barack Obama’s elections in 2008 and 2012, and to mass shootings. The very purchase of guns, and especially assault weapons, is a statement that they should remain legal and unregulated, that guns themselves are not the problem. It’s also a way to express opposition to Obama. Within the gun industry, this pattern is called “political sales.”

Second, some buy these weapons because of their enticement as “forbidden fruit.” After all, they were restricted nationwide for 10 years, and even today seven states plus the District of Columbia limit access to these weapons.

Imagine if the government announced that the speed limit on interstate highways would be raised temporarily from 65 to 120 miles per hour. Undoubtedly, some drivers would jump to test out the new law, for the sheer sake of the experience, and the thrill of doing something that is normally illegal. Although such driving would be, at the least, less than prudent, the very fact of a brief window of opportunity would attract many . . .

Even though the prospect of significant new regulation is nil for the foreseeable future, gun consumers fed a steady diet of political paranoia about our impending tyrannical government are quick to envision a time when all firearms will be illegal (even though the Supreme Court and our own history say otherwise).

The third reason appears everywhere, yet hides in plain sight. To some, assault weapons, especially with larger-capacity magazines, are fun to shoot — a fact hardly lost on gun advocates.

It’s this last feature – not a bug – that really grabs Spitzer’s attention. He cites the pleasure of shooting “assault rifles” – “even” among anti-gun writers – as THE reason MSRs are A-OK with the American public. Attributed, in part, to the “AR hard-on effect.”

As “Gun Guys” author Dan Baum has argued, much of what’s “fun” about shooting an assault weapon is that it feels masculine; it’s an implicit expression of male sexuality. Some gun enthusiasts even refer to assault weapons, and especially the ARs, as “Barbie dolls for men” because of their connection to sexuality and because they have interchangeable parts that can be added and removed, like Barbie accessories.

And then Spitzer strips off his semi-objective mantle and reveals himself to be the anti-gun dick that he is, that the Chicago Tribune need him to be.

Although pleasure is a perfectly legitimate reason to own an AR-15, dramatic invocations of constitutional rights, American heritage or direly expressed needs related to self-defense have more gravitas in the national gun debate. That is why gun-rights spokespeople, when asked to comment after the latest mass shooting committed with an assault weapon, will never say that such firearms should remain legal because they’re so much fun to shoot.

Expressing Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is a bit “dramatic.” I wonder why that is . . .

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  1. “Imagine if the government announced that the speed limit on interstate highways would be raised temporarily from 65 to 120 miles per hour. Undoubtedly, some drivers would jump to test out the new law, for the sheer sake of the experience, and the thrill of doing something that is normally illegal.”

    Broken analogy, much? It would be more accurate to say that the speed-limit, being previously 70mph, was then lowered to 55 mph for no good reason, based on lies about gas savings, lets say. And then after 10 years it was raised back to 70mph, and the now larger population, many of whom where not of driving age during the previous 70mph days, decided to exercise the opportunity, lest it be taken away again.

    But, who am i kidding, that analogy is pure fantasy, right?

  2. Because politicians hate them and a result we try to procure as many as financially feasible, before they get their ban on. It is also serves as a nice protest as well. Whenever they want to ban my firearm (or magazine) because some lunatic somewhere else hurt someone with one – it just makes me want to buy some more.

  3. “…an assault weapon is that it feels masculine; it’s an implicit expression of male sexuality. ”

    I have fun shooting my MSRs for reasons not related to sex, masculinity, etc. Why does this always have to relate back to this by journalists? Any giggle I get from putting small holes in small groups at targets far far away has no ‘dick’ politics to it.

    If I get the same type of enjoyment from water skiing, what does that say? Rock climbing? Solving a tricky riddle? How does ‘a sense of accomplishment’ translate to ‘dick’?

    I swear these people are the ones with the sex/masculinity complexes…

    • Most anti-gun folks are progressives and progressives HATE masculinity. Thus, it is a way to kill two birds with one stone. Masculinity is bad. People shoot guns because of masculinity. Ergo, guns are bad.

    • You said it perfectly. I hate how everything imaginable can somehow be related back to sex. Why can’t I just drive a fast car because of the enjoyment of driving fast? Why does having a rifle have to be a manifestation of my insecurities?

      Just let me have fun, dammit!

  4. Assault weapons are highly regulated. Try walking into a gun store, and buying one. Lets not allow facts to get in the way though, Mr. Spitzer.

    • Shucks Red, I’m here in OK. Drive on up to Tulsa and I’ve got a .300 Blackout on a RISE lower I can let you have. As long as I don’t know you’re from TX, I’m not committing a crime. You would be though. It’s much more dangerous to buy a firearm from a private individual in another state, than the one you live in.

        • “Assault weapons” are not regulated in OK, because they are political fiction. Assault rifles are heavily regulated because they have to be select-fire by definition, else they are more commonly referred to as modern sporting rifles. The devil is in the details.

      • Alan,

        If you tell him about the subsonic ammo and the YHM .30 QD Phantom he could have if he moved here. You won’t have to sell him anything, he wouldn’t even pack, or sell his old place.

        • Seriously, Joe, between this and your other disjointed ramblings on some other posts this afternoon, I’m a little concerned. If you haven’t been drinking or smoking weed today, you might want to get some medical attention, because you might have had a stroke. Most days, you’re borderline understandable, but today it’s just word salad.

        • Hell Joe, I’m an avid “stamp collector”. My post was about the term assault weapon. If it ain’t FA or burst, it ain’t assault. I wouldn’t leave Texas for Oklahoma, if somebody paid me. 😀

    • Red, stop by GA anytime. We can play with my M4 built on a M16 RR or have some belt-fed fun.

      The man is right. FA = Assault Rifle.

  5. Before the Newtown stuff I had no plans on buying an ar. Mostly because I had nowhere nearby to shoot one and can’t hunt with it in Illinois. NOW that doesn’t matter much. Unbelievable deals especially on the interwebz + civil unrest=me with an ar…

  6. I have to admit, I built my AR-15 when I did, primarily for political reasons. It wasn’t that I didn’t find them interesting or didn’t want one before, but there were other guns higher on my list. I figured I would get one eventually. I did want to make a statement by owning one. I still waited 9 months after Newtown for the prices to die down just to buy a stripped lower and I didn’t finish the build for another 9 months. But then I discovered they really are fun to shoot. I even started reloading .223 to feed it.

    But if I need to express my masculinity by shooting a rifle, I’ll shoot my Mosin carbine. My wife and daughter shoot my AR.

    • Wait, if you have to shoot for masculinity, it will be a sign of the Apocalypse. But yes, indeed the Mosin is awesome. Archangel Stocks are worth the $, scope mountings take some negotiation.

      • Mine’s still in the laminated M44 stock it came in but I have mounted a 4X pistol scope with an S&K mount. It’s not the most accurate rifle I own but it’s fun. It has what I feel is “hunting accuracy” out to about 100 yards. Here in PA we can’t hunt with semiautomatic rifles yet, which is one reason the AR was further down my list. I first needed something to reach out and touch whitetails a bit further.

  7. I never bought a fully retail AR. All of mine have started as stripped lowers. I still keep a couple lowers, JIC.

    • You keep a warm memory in your heart, as they were lost in that terrible fire at sea that time, some time ago, we were younger then, most people are at that age…

  8. This article is 2 years too late. AR sales are far from booming. All you have to do is see how companies are practically giving away AR’s, AR uppers and other AR accesories. If you would have told me 2 years ago you could but a basic but very good AR for the 600’s I would have said your crazy. But you can now almost everywhere. There is a massive backlog of AR’S and the demand has slowed to a crawl now so prices are dropping big time that alone tells you that the sales are way way down. Ask any gun store how ARs are selling and they will tell you everyone bought them 2 and 3 years ago so now not a lot of people are demanding them anymore. Pistol sales are still great. This guy obviously hasn’t done his research at all

  9. As “Gun Guys” author Dan Baum has argued, much of what’s “fun” about shooting an assault weapon is that it feels masculine; it’s an implicit expression of male sexuality.

    If that is the case, then why do so many women and children enjoy shooting firearms … even (gasp!) AR-15s? Statements that connect shooting and sexuality are utter and complete bull$hit.

  10. “Imagine if the government announced that the speed limit on interstate highways would be raised temporarily from 65 to 120 miles per hour.”

    Or, how about no speed limits at all Mr. Chicago editorial writer twit? In the context of gun rights, this is called “constitutional carry”.

  11. They say your viewpoint depends on where you sit. If someone sees a gun as a phallus, they probably also see one represented by a cigar, a car, a house, a piece of toast, a glass of milk, etc.

  12. So just an interesting point, I don’t think shooting guns makes me feel masculine, at least not in the way they’re trying to portrait it. I feel empowered, competent, capable, self-sufficient, etc… all things often associated with masculinity but certainly not restricted to it either, as no doubt women enjoy feeling that way too.

  13. When a writer uses terminology like “assault rifles”, then you know how he feels. To me, they’re “firearms” or “guns”. If I thought of them as “assault rifles” or even “assult weapons”, then they would be associated with killing people. But my guns haven’t killed anything … so they’re still only “guns”.

  14. Mosin Nagant 91/30 is manly gun for manly Russian men. AR-15 is Barbie Doll for not manly Amerikanskiy, like Dan Baum and Robert Spitzer. Da, tovarisch?

  15. That is why gun-rights spokespeople, when asked to comment after the latest mass shooting committed with a pump shotgun, will never say that such firearms should remain legal because they’re so much fun to shoot.

  16. “Barbie dolls for guys, you can dress it up however you like”, that’s a decade old wore out reference to the vast number of options, parts, and accessories available for AR platform firearms.

    Only a gun hating liberal or some ignorant dumbass who doesn’t know jack shit about firearms would assign a sexual connotation to the phrase.

    The reason the AR platform rifle is the weapon of choice for millions of Americans if because it ‘s a versatile affordable user friendly firearm that even novice shooters can quickly become proficient with since it has almost no recoil which makes it fun and easy to shoot, and is not only the ultimate home defense weapon, but a favorite for sport shooting and hunting as well.

    Here’s another couple of references common among AR enthusiast that will make liberal gun haters heads explode:

    1. Black Rifle
    2. We always carry a handgun should it be needed to fight our way to a rifle.

  17. The morons that wrote this article as well as most of the post here miss the whole point. The post Obama election run on MSRs has nothing to do with a political statement and little to do with fun (even though they are). It has to do with people’s genuine concern for anarchy!!

    • “It has to do with people’s genuine concern for anarchy”. Too funny, almost sounds like the sort of bluster we’ve come to expect from the Nutty Buckeye and Goofy Hoosier.

      I suppose if you live in a anti gun liberal state like Maryland, New York, or the Peoples Republic of New Jersey, an obsessive fear of anarchy is somewhat understandable, but since MSR’s are either completely illegal or heavily restricted in those states and most other liberal strongholds, lawful MSR sales in such locations are negligible or non existent.

      The truth is that a “buy it while you still can” frenzy is or was the driving force behind record gun sales since 2008 based on a legitimate expectation that an Obama controlled Federal government would likely do anything and everything possible to inhibit or restrict all firearms sales, especially MSR’s.

      So you see Harris, it’s not an irrational obsessive fear of anarchy, but simply the “buy it while you still can” frenzy combined with a traditional American demand for effective and efficient defensive firearms that explains “Why Assault Rifle Sales Are Booming” (or were booming).

  18. It’s true what they say about compensating. If I could precisely deliver thousands of FPe hundreds of yards away with my dick I wouldn’t need a rifle.

    (Apologies to HM Heinlein)

  19. The author is lying. I’ll prove it: ” AR-15 type rifles are FUN to shoot.” He said that gun advocates would not say that and I did. So do many others. So, why is he lying? And why is he called something an “assault rifle” that isn’t ? He needs to go back to (propaganda) school.

  20. So buying an AR is like driving at 120 miles an hour on a road designed to be “safe” at 65 mph. Gee, how subtle a way to say that ARs are inherently unsafe. No bias at the ChiTrib …

  21. Yet again, the sick minds of gun control associate weapons, and even common-sense, with sexuality. They pain a picture as viewed from the perspective of their own inferiority, and lash out at those who do not share their shortcomings. If you have to lash out to make yourself feel like somebody, you only expose yourself… Is this really “for the children?” Or maybe, a parent, male or otherwise, willing to NOT be just as helpless as a child, is the real parent? More inadequacy issues… Too cowardly to step up to their responsibilities, try to drag others down to their failures; in passing laws to force others to be as helpless as a child, and in lashing out in the most transparent way of all, attempting to emasculate their betters.

    Higher intellect is seen in the use of tools to perform functions that said higher intellect makes possible, but flesh and blood cannot live up to. The choice to dispose of one’s higher function is the choice to abandon the very thing that separates us from animals. To stoop lower. To then demand that l others be deprived of their humanity just because cowards have disposed of theirs… I’m not sure a word yet exists to describe that degree of evil. The natural state of higher intellect is extensible function through tool.

    The gulf between anti gunner animals, and pro gun humans, is defined by this sentence.


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