Last night I had a chance to watch “Rise of the AR-15” on CNBC. It outlined the history of the modern sporting rifle and continued on with the devastation it has caused in various mass shootings. The design originated 50 years ago for light infantry use. Its civilian success is something nobody predicted with 4,000,000 sold in the United States. The devastation could be predicted as the ballistics of the round results in a rotating motion on impact which destroys bone and tissue. This rotation is lethal if it hits a vital organ and often results in amputation if it hits a limb. It has a very aggressive look, is easy to operate and accurate. These features make it popular for sportsman.
The recent surge in highlighting the “well regulated” aspect of the second amendment has made this firearm very popular of late. AR-15 and accessories account for 80% of sales for some shops. When people think they may not be able to get something in the future they tend to stock up. Unlike Twinkies, stock piles of AR-15 and ammunition are more dangerous if not stored properly and kept out of the hands of felons, the mentally unstable, violent individuals and children.
Manufacturers are promoting the firearm as a military grade weapon. This marketing has been very successful. Personally, if I heard that the US Navy Seal teams use a particular pen, watch, or any other accoutrement, that item is automatically higher on my wish list. The same way beer manufacturers promote scantily clad women and auto manufacturers show their cars on a closed course, firearms manufacturers present their wares in the light most likely to sell.
The industry not only is supported by sales, but also training and shooting clubs. It felt like an adventure camp for adults where they could go out with like minded individuals and be trained to use their new toy. This is nothing new. There are professionally run driving schools on race tracks and sports camps galore for children and adults.
“Preppers” or survivalists were also given brief mention. These individuals are preparing for the downfall of society and have food, medical supplies and firearms on hand for the coming end of the world scenario. One reason firearm sales remain brisk is the fear (rational or irrational) that the proper authorities cannot ensure the safety of a person or their family.
The rise of gun violence was given substantially less attention by the program. Anybody with a conscience should be making efforts to reduce violence in the world. Gun violence is no exception. There are federal laws against drugs such as cocaine and heroin. There were federal laws against alcohol consumption. Cigarette taxes have been increasing steadily to provide funding to help people quit. Trans fats have been discontinued by most restaurant chains. Even the right to free speech is curtailed if one incites a riot. It is time for an effort to reduce the consumption of firearms and regulate ownership.
Unfortunately democracy in America and a representative government are on the decline. Campaign finance ensures that lobbies have the strongest voice in our government. Officials who continue to represent their contributors over their constituents will continue ensure that the legislation does not meet the needs of the majority of citizens.