March 30, 2021: Why Does Anyone Need an AR-15?

When was the last time you heard that AR-15 assault rifles and other weapons of war have no place on our streets? Will banning or highly regulating all AR-15 rifles make the average citizen safer? And who needs an AR-15 anyhow? I hope to answer these questions, and maybe challenge some pre-conceived thoughts on the topic.

AR 15 weapons of war?

The AR15, why does anyone need one?

We have wonderful Podcast listeners. Recently R.G. wrote in with a timely question:

Hey Guys,

Was listening to the recent News episode of the podcast. I had a question for you guys. I’ve been in some discussions with people who ask the infamous question, “Why does anyone need an AR-15?”
… One response that I get that I would like to know how you would respond to is, “The same outcome could have been accomplished with a handgun or a shotgun.” … I have my response to that but I was curious to how you would respond to someone suggesting (telling) you what you should use for home defensive purposes.
What follows is my answer to his question, along with some other common questions about AR-15 ownership.

No One Needs an AR-15:

R.G. it is important that we have a logical, fact-based response to this question. I believe that many who want to regulate guns don’t understand the complexity of gun legislation. Additionally, they often also do not understand how firearms operate.

Thus form their opinion is based more on emotion and the misinformation spread around by the news. Many who want more gun legislation are kind-hearted people who really believe that ‘gun-control’ will actually save lives.

I think we must try our best to educate and appeal to their sense of wanting to do good. A couple of steps we can take is to:
  1. Clear up misconceptions about AR-15’s and guns in general
  2. Address effectiveness of current legislation
  3. Propose what may work even better
A couple of sure-fire ways to shut down a conversation is to try and make someone think the way you do. And to argue from a position of emotion rather than facts. Of course, there are people who will not listen to facts, and do not want to challenge their positions on a topic. I recommend that you don’t spend too much time arguing with those who do not desire honest dialogue. But anytime there is an opportunity to chat on the subject, be willing.

Fact-Based Responses:

Assertions rarely are convincing, facts and data can hold a lot of weight. For that reason, I have cited many references from which I pulled my data.

Why does anyone need an AR-15? We can respond with the following possible responses:
  • I don’t need an AR-15, but I have the right to own one. It is a simple answer, that stands alone. Outside of states that already have “assault rifle” bans, owning an AR-15 is not illegal. Making this simple statement turns the question back toward the person. The question is for them to explain why people shouldn’t have an AR-15. Likely responses are:
    • AR-15s are military-grade – This is FALSE
      • No military in the world uses a semi-automatic AR-15.
    • Fully automatic/machine guns – This is FALSE
      • They are semi-automatic, the same as 90% of other rifles and nearly 100% of handguns. And no semi-automatic and fully-automatic are not ‘pretty much the same thing.’

The AR-15 is semi-automatic only. One-shot per trigger squeeze. Fully-automatic rifles can fire 3 round burst or continuously with a single trigger squeeze.

  • More lethal – This is FALSE
    • Guns are lethal, that is the point of them. If they were not lethal, criminals wouldn’t use them to hurt others. And good guys wouldn’t use them to defend themselves and others.
  • High or Large Caliber – This is False
    • The 5.56 cartridge is minuscule in size and kinetic energy when compared to the most popular hunting rifles. Take a look at the Remington 750 30-06 semi-automatic rifle. Doesn’t look too scary, does it? Now, look at the 30-06 cartridge of the Remington 750 and compare it to the 5.56 cartridge of the AR15. It is clear, there are far more ‘powerful’ caliber rifles that would not be banned alongside the AR-15.
    • Should AR-15 style rifles that shoot .22LR ammunition be banned as well? If it is the caliber and not the rifle, then which caliber(s) if banned, would make people safer?

The 5.56 cartridge used in AR15’s does not have close to the mass and kinetic energy of the 30-06, which is a common hunting caliber.

  • Are used to kill people in great numbers – This is FALSE
    • I would direct you to this link from the FBI. It shows that ALL rifles used in homicides are only a tiny fraction of the types of firearms used in homicides. In 2014 ALL rifles were used in 248 homicides. Compare that to the 5,562 homicides where a handgun was used. Or the 1,567 deaths where a knife or cutting instrument was used.

FBI statistics on deaths by rifle

  • AR-15s are the gun of choice for mass shooters – This is FALSE
    • AR-15’s have been used in many mass shootings. However, to think that mass shootings or killings would not take place without the AR-15 is factually incorrect. The Virginia Tech shooter used only handguns to kill 32 humans and wound 17. In Columbine, the deranged teens used handguns and shotguns. The Fort Hood shooter used handguns, and the list goes on. Here are some stats.
  • AR-15s can kill more people because of high capacity magazines – This is FALSE
    • The term ‘High-capacity magazine’ is a made-up term. The standard AR-15 magazine holds 30 rounds, and only became “high capacity” when politicians thought that limiting a magazine to a 10 round capacity would make the gun safer. We may wonder, what the science is behind referring to 10 round magazines as safe, and anything higher as “high capacity” and dangerous? There isn’t any, it is an arbitrary number. There has been no statistical evidence that there has been any reduction in crime or mass shootings in states that have enacted laws banning magazines of more than 10 rounds.
    • On a side note, the Parkland shooter used 10 round magazines. The magazine’s capacity has nothing to do with the lethality of a firearm. Magazines can be changed out quickly negating the “more bullets = more lethal” concept. Furthermore, magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are not unique to AR-15’s. Magazine limit restrictions just don’t work.
  • AR-15s are only used to kill innocent humans – This is FALSE
    • Ar-15’s are used far more often to protect innocent lives than to take innocent lives. People will quickly pivot away from this point because it completely shuts down the argument that they are only used for evil.
    • Listed are just a few incidents where the use of an AR-15 was used in a self-defense context.  Anyone who searches for “AR-15 used to save a life” or similar will be able to find many more justified uses.
Steven Williford

This average man named Steven Williford prevented the Sutherland Springs massacre from being worse. He used his AR-15 to shoot the suspect, who later died of his injuries.

Check out our training course Complete Home Defense, where we discuss armed and unarmed strategies to keep your family safe.

This is where they might also use the argument R.G. mentioned:

  • They could have just used a handgun.
    • In some instances any gun may have stopped the attackers, there is no way to know for sure. But you can be sure that instances like Sutherland Springs, where the good guy shot from a distance would have been much more difficult with a handgun. And with a shotgun, nearly impossible.
      • Shotguns at distance are ineffective, and actually, place the general public at increased risk because of the spreading pellets.
    • Maybe they could have used a different gun to defend themselves. But let’s ask the question, why do you think they chose an AR-15? The answer is simple:
      • AR-15s are much easier to learn how to shoot. They are accurate, light, and don’t produce a lot of recoil making the gun perfect for everyone. These are just some of the reasons why it is the most popular rifle used in shooting sports. Furthermore, it’s replaced nearly every other carbine or rifle used by law enforcement, partially because of its simple use.
      • The fact that the AR-15 was used and was successful in saving someone’s life, while not producing collateral injury, proves its viability as a self-defense firearm.
AR 15 sporting rifles

Alpha Addy, a juvenile competitive shooter can handle the AR-15 like a champ. This ease of use is one reason it is such a popular rifle.

Let’s look deeper at the “couldn’t they just use a handgun or shotgun” argument.

  • If someone ‘could have used a different gun to defend themselves’ is it not fair to also ask, if AR-15s were banned, couldn’t a killer just use a handgun or shotgun?’ Sure they could, you can show them the above incidents where the person intent on committing murder DID use a different type of gun, knife, blunt object, etc. We have to realize good guys and bad guys have similar reasons for choosing an AR-15.

AR-15s are functionally NO DIFFERENT than almost every semi-automatic rifle being sold.

Why don’t we try an Assault Rifle Ban and see what happens?

The assault weapons ban was implemented for 10 years, and the government study showed it had ZERO effect on crimes committed with ‘assault weapons.’

And Most Simply:

  • I need or want an AR-15 because criminals have AR-15s. As long as criminals can get them, I want to be able to use one to defend my family with one. Furthermore, since there are more than 10 million AR-15 owned in the United States, it’s safe to say I only place myself and my family at a major disadvantage if I turn mine in. Why should you not be able to defend your family with a firearm that shines in the role of self-defense?

So What Proposals do AR-15 Owners Propose?

I won’t presume to speak for every gun owner, but here are some things to consider:

Perhapse additional gun laws aren’t the answer. Instead, educating more people on how to better prepare and respond to an incident would be better. This includes promoting training and concealed carry, rather than making it taboo or a burdensome process. Furthermore, teaching firearm safety not only helps the gun owner, but others as well.

When Attorney General Holder made it a point to “really brainwash” the way Americans looked at guns, it put a scarlet letter on gun owners. The notion that people who own guns are dangerous, or more prone to violence than non-gun owners is absolutely rediulious. Furthermore, there is no data that even shows a coralation. As a result, learning how to be safe with a firearm, or even carry one for protection has become suspect behavior. They may not be the next active shooter, but they definitly shouldn’t post a picture of themsleves training on social media.

For an example of this, ask someone to name the last mass shooting committed by an NRA member. Yet the organization is constantly depicted as evil and the members a freakish cult of maniacs who are waiting for an opportunity to kill someone. The NRA has issues. However, the organization has probably done more to push gun safety and training than any other organization in history.

Turning every gun owner in America into a boogey man hasn’t helped.


Truthfully, the only solution is a change of heart. If someone murders people, it has never been and will never be a result of a gun. It is always that individual person’s own action that caused them to pull a trigger. We are all influenced by failures, problems and the tough world we live in. But nothing anyone says or does to us absolves us from the ultimate responsabilities of our own decisions. We have to stop scapegoating others for the crimes of another. Call it waht it is, evil.

I hope this helps and can be used as a reference when trying to educate and answer that popular question of why does anyone needs an AR-15?

If you like the content like this, make sure to check out the Concealed Carry Podcast, where we present legal, tactical, and educational aspects related to firearm ownership and concealed carry.