Monday, June 20, 2016

GUNS - The AR-15

"It's the weapon of choice for U.S. mass murderers: the AR-15" PBS NewsHour 6/14/2016


SUMMARY:  The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America, and the most reviled.  A civilian variant of the U.S. military's standard-issue M16, the AR-15 has gained recent notoriety for its use in mass shootings in Newtown, Aurora, San Bernardino and Orlando's Pulse nightclub; the gun is also the centerpiece of an ongoing high-profile lawsuit against gun manufacturers.  John Yang reports.

Editor's note:  This story focused on the AR-15 rifle, which was the weapon used in several recent mass shootings.  Orlando law enforcement officials initially said this was the same gun type used in the Pulse nightclub shooting, but later clarified that the Orlando shooter was using a Sig Sauer MCX.  The Sig Sauer MCX is a rifle with several similarities to the AR 15-style and was originally designed for use by U.S. special operation forces.  The NewsHour regrets the confusion.

JOHN YANG (NewsHour):  The NRA says it's America's most popular rifle, used legally and safely by millions of people.  A lawyer for victims' families says it's the gold standard for mass murder of innocent civilians.

The AR-15 has been used in some of the nation's worst mass shootings; at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; an Oregon community college; and now an Orlando gay club.

To learn more about the rifle, its popularity among gun enthusiasts and its place in American culture, we went to a Northern Virginia gun range to speak with former Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Phillip Carter, himself a gun owner, who knows the AR-15 well from his service as an Army officer.

Why is this weapon so popular?

PHILLIP CARTER, Former Defense Department Official:  So, the AR-15 is America's rifle because it's what America's military carries.

It's modeled on the M-16 that's been carried by America's Army and America's Marine Corps and the rest of our services since Vietnam.  Today, roughly 20,000 troops carry a similar rifle in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even those who don't serve feel that they're part of that effort when they carry the AR-15.

JOHN YANG:  I have read that the recoil is a bit gentler than some other rifles.

PHILIP CARTER:  So, the recoil on the M-16 or the AR-15 is designed to be light, so that you can keep it on target and continue to shoot bullet after bullet after bullet.  It's by design.

There's a massive spring here in the stock that absorbs quite a bit of the recoil.  There's also, by design, a gas system that takes a lot of the gas from the firing of each bullet, and it evaporates it, so that when each bullet is fired, that gas and that recoil isn't coming back on the shoulder each time, but it's actually in the rifle in a more constructive manner.

JOHN YANG:  And that feature would also allow a shooter to keep steady.

PHILIP CARTER:  It's a military rifle.  It's designed to deliver masses of bullets to a very specific target over time.  This is a weapon designed to kill in mass quantities.  It's a military weapon.

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