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That’s an “assault rifle” to gun control advocates and our friends in the media. Mind you, we’re not talking about 8,868,085 owners of AR-style rifles; the black gun-owning population may be smaller (one owner, multiple guns) or larger (owners who don’t want to tell all and sundry they’re ready for Armageddon). Sensibly enough, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF)—sponsors of the “Shooting Sports Participation Survey in the United States in 2009”—doesn’t want to go anywhere near the gun census thing. Instead, the NSSF has trained its sights on countering the black gun backlash (such as it was) . . .

To that end, they’ve launched a campaign “Evolution of the American Hunting Rifle” (a.k.a. “The New Ol’ Betsy). True dat—at least anecdotally. I’ve seen everyone from pre-teens to grannies shooting ARs, and met lots of people who own an AR-style rifle as their .223 cal Swiss Army knife (hunting, home defense, fun).

In that regard, the NSSF data dump is not without its charms, including the extrapolated estimation that 15 percent of the U.S. population (34.4 million ‘Mericans) did a little target shooting in 2009. “This number surpasses all other previous survey estimates of annual sport shooting participation.”

  • Most modern sporting rifle users reside in small cities or towns (25 percent) and non-farm rural areas (25 percent) compared with urban areas (19 percent), suburban areas (16 percent) and farms/ranches (15 percent).
  • Modern sporting rifles appealed to younger shooters, with 64 percent of users ranging in age from 18 to 44.
  • Modern sporting rifle users were 86 percent white, with Hispanic/Latinos the next largest ethnic group at 5 percent.
  • Men represented 84 percent of modern sporting rifle shooters and women 16 percent.
  • 34 percent of modern sporting rifle shooters had some college education or a trade school degree, 29 percent a bachelor’s degree and 27 percent a high school degree or equivalent.

So now you know. Question: what’s a post-modern sporting rifle?

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