I had a chance this weekend to talk at length with Michael Bane, my good friend and mentor in this industry. In just a few hours, we managed to solve all the world’s problems, and we both agreed that we were the smartest people on the planet, on a variety of topics*.
Or at least the smartest people in the front seats of his car.
As is so often when two gun writers chat about things for any amount of time, the talk about restrictions on the right to self-defense came up, and specifically the hatred that the Neo-Puritans of the gun control movement have for the AR-15.
As best I can figure it out, the recent push to (try to) do away with a gun that is in common use has it’s roots in three different ideas that are each near and dear to the heart of today’s progressives.
- The AR-15 is not “natural.” Scratch a conservative, and you’ll probably find Burke underneath, or maybe Nietzsche. Scratch a progressive, on the other hand, and there’s a good chance that you’ll see most of what they believe has it’s roots in Rousseau. The tendency towards radical environmentalism and
worship of an angry and vengeful weather godbelief in anthropomorphic climate change are clearly inspired by Rousseau.
Now take a look at an AR, and compare it to, say, a Mini-14 with a wood stock. Functionally, there is zero difference between the two rifles, yet somehow the wood stock of the Mini-14 seems less threatening than the metal and plastic AR. This idea that wood and other “natural” materials are “normal” for guns, while plastic and anodized aluminum isn’t I believe is one of the reasons why the AR-15 seems “scary” to people who don’t know squat about guns.
- The history of the AR-15’s full-auto cousin, the M-16. Yes, I know, an AR-15 is not an M-16, but both owe their existence to Eugene Stoner. The M-16 first came into use during the Vietnam War, and it’s a statement of faith by progressives that the Vietnam War was where it all went wrong in America.
All the imagery of American troops fighting in Vietnam showed them with M-16’s in their hands. As a result, anything that even bore a passing resemblance to an M-16 (like an AR) was a obviously a tool of American imperialism. M-16s in the hands of soldiers = bad. Ergo, AR-15’s in the hands of American citizens = bad as well.
- The distributive nature of the AR. Defense Distributed has an automated CNC machine that will make an AR-15 lower receiver (the part that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms says is the actual “gun” part of an AR) in about eight hours, from a standard size of aluminum bar stock. Try doing THAT with an M-1 Garand. The Garand and the M-1 Carbine and the 1911 pistol pretty much every gun up until the AR-15 are craftsman’s guns. Sure, they are (in theory) made from interchangeable parts, but it’s HOW they are made that makes the difference. Those other guns are a labor of love. The days, an AR can be built with just the push of a button.
It’s the fact, combined with the almost unlimited upgrade and modification you can do to it, that augments the hatred that progressives have to the AR. If you have a Garand, you have a Garand. If you have an AR, however, you have a future of possible upgrades and modifications that can truly turn it it something ideal for your needs, and that’s scary to progressives. They are much more comfortable with “sporting arms” with a clearly defined purpose that centers around hunting, rather than something that with just a few turns of a screw, can be used to defend a home or to defend a God-given right.
And that’s scary. Well, scary to progressives, at least.
* It’s important to mention that he is wrong, oh so wrong, about Hüsker Dü vs. ABBA. Zen Arcade is, and always shall be, one of the greatest albums of all time. ABBA? ABBA didn’t give us enough music to last a lunchtime, much less a lifetime.