Reading the letters to the editor of mainstream media outlets is a great way to highlight the fact that a large portion of the population consumes and falls for fall for their narratives. This gets particularly sobering when you realize that many of these same people also vote.
Case in point: someone named Tom Halfhill recently wrote a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle regarding “assault weapons” and Judge Roger Benitez’s ruling striking down California’s ban. What Halfhill scrawled in his letter — probably in crayon — is so chock full of gun control industry talking points and media-regurgitated propaganda that he couldn’t have been more wrong if he were actively trying to spread misinformation.
Even if the judge who struck down California’s assault-rifle ban is an NRA stooge, he apparently knows little about firearms. His assertion that an AR-15 is “perfect” for home defense is laughable.
An assault rifle’s rapid-fire capability almost guarantees that many shots will miss the target. Misses that exit a window can easily kill an innocent person more than a mile away. Missed shots that hit interior walls can penetrate the plasterboard and kill someone in the next room, the next apartment, or next door. Full-metal-jacket rounds might penetrate two or three walls.
The best home-defense firearm is a legally sawed-off pump-action shotgun. The distinctive sound of racking the slide will scare away most intruders. If force is necessary, the wide spray of buckshot tolerates poor aim while still inflicting serious harm. And a missed shot won’t go far. I’ve never heard a real gun expert recommend an assault rifle for home defense.
There is so much to digest here that the job seems daunting, but that’s why we’re here. I’ll ignore the accusation of NRA stoogery on the part of Judge Benitez and concentrate on the suitability of the firearm as a home defense weapon.
The assertion that an AR-15 is a poor choice for home defense is laughable on its face and demands to be addressed. In reality, the AR-15 and similar rifles are nearly perfect in that role.
They are modular, configurable, lightweight, maneuverable, easy to control, accurate, and reliable. That means they can be used effectively by almost anyone in the home. And the AR-15 fires a rifle caliber round that’s quite likely to dissuade or stop a home invader.
As for the alleged “rapid-fire” nature of the rifle, the AR-15 is semi-automatic. That means one round fired per trigger pull, just like hundreds of millions of handguns and shotguns that are also regularly used for home defense. That semi-automatic capability doesn’t “guarantee” missed shots, but it does make for faster follow-up shots. Halfhill seems to conflate semi-automatic with fully automatic, expecting a homeowner to use the spray and pray method.
The minimal recoil of a .223 or 5.56 caliber rifle like the AR-15 means the shooter won’t be thrown off target after every shot, something that’s a much bigger problem with Halfhill’s weapon of choice, the sawed-off shotgun.
An AR-15 isn’t a GLOCK 18 that requires lots of skill to keep it on target. Proper training should be done with any firearm for home defense, but the AR-15 tends to be one of the easiest weapons to train with and to shoot effectively. And in a home defense situation, shooting effectively also means shooting more safely.
Can a 5.56 round travel more than a mile? I’m sure it could…if you lobbed it like a grenade. If it’s fired parallel to the ground at, say, the chest height of a bad guy, it’s going to lose elevation and crash into the ground well before it gets that far.
Will AR-15 rounds go through walls? Well, yeah. Any bullet — or buckshot pellet — capable of fending off a home invader can easily travel through walls.
However, an AR-15 is less likely to do that than either a handgun or a shotgun. The 5.56 round tends to fragment and lose energy as it passes through drywall at a greater rate than either shotgun pellets or handgun projectiles.
Another laughable Halfhill assertion is that the best home defense firearm is a legally sawed-off pump-action shotgun. Legally sawn off? He means a short-barreled shotgun, right? There are all kinds of legal hoops you have to jump through to do that anywhere in the US, but in California, they’re illegal. For most people, Mr. Halfhill, that takes that option off the table.
Next there’s my favorite piece of oft-repeated Fudd lore; the distinctive sound of racking a shotgun will scare away most intruders. Dontcha just love that one? You read that in online forums almost as often as “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by six,” and “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
If your home defense plan relies on the bad guy hearing you rack your shotgun, recognizing the sound, and then fleeing in fear, I have some oceanfront property in Sacramento I’d like to sell you, Mr. Halfhill.
Next is the familiar, though equally laughable and erroneous claim that “the wide spray of buckshot tolerates poor aim while still inflicting serious harm.” I hate to burst Mr. Halfhill’s hoplophobic bubble, but at personal defense distances — those frequently encountered within the typical home — there is no “wide spray of buckshot,” even if you’re shooting a sawed-off shotgun. Shotgun patterns at that range are fist-sized at best.
Second, if you did get a wide spray of OO pellets — so wide that it makes up for inexperience or poor aim — that would be a serious safety concern, right?
Halfwit Halfhill mentioned that a stray round from an AR-15 could kill an innocent person. That is, of course, correct. Does he think that same principal doesn’t apply to a wide pattern of .33 caliber OO buckshot?
People who use shotguns for home defense frequently try to tighten their patterns for just this reason. A stray buckshot pellet can be every bit as dangerous as a stray .223 round, though it won’t travel as far.
What ‘Real Gun Experts’ Say
Finally, Halfhill states that he’s never heard a “real gun expert” recommend using an assault rifle for home defense. Setting aside the use of the “assault rifle” moniker, if he’s never heard a recognized expert suggest using an AR-15 for home defense, it’s because he isn’t listening. Or has no interest in hearing it.
Plenty of personal defense experts suggest using the AR-15 and similar rifles for home defense. I just Googled “Experts Home Defense Weapons” and found a dozen suggesting the gun on the first page alone.
How about, as an example, Sergeant Major Kyle Lamb? He’s one who recommends using the AR-15 for home defense. He spent 21 years in the Army, including 15 years in Special Operations serving with Delta Force. Beyond that, he’s a well-known firearms instructor and owner of Viking Tactical. Is that expert enough?
Halfhill’s letter is just one of dozens that are full of propaganda, misinformation, and outright lies. Some people can be led to water, but they refuse to drink. In order to counter this misinformation, maybe the gun community needs to start writing letters to these newspapers…not that they’d print them.