Why Do Americans Own 15 Million AR-15s?

For a loyal band of thrill-seeking followers, the sleek, militaristic design and customizable features make the high-powered rifle simply fun to own. Most AR-15 owners never served in the U.S. military or in law enforcement, and nine in 10 say their main reason for owning one is for recreational target shooting.

At least 15 million AR-15s or AR-15-style rifles have been sold in the U.S. since 1990, says the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The AR-15 is the semiautomatic weapon that the National Rifle Association has designated “America’s rifle.” For some, the Washington Post reports, the weapon is useful for hunting or protecting their home. For a loyal band of thrill-seeking followers, the sleek, militaristic design and customizable features make the high-powered rifle simply fun to own. Most AR-15 owners never served in the U.S. military or in law enforcement, and nine in 10 say their main reason for owning one is for recreational target shooting. David Chipman, who used to carry an AR-15 for his job as a  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent, says, “I would compare it to the same reason Americans might want a muscle car or enjoy a muscle car: It’s American-made, it has outsized power.”

The Post profiles one AR-15 owner, Fabian Rodriguez of San Antonio, who encounters plenty of skeptics, including his mother, who ask him why anyone would need so many guns, particularly a semiautomatic rifle like an AR-15 that can fire 45 high-velocity rounds per minute, bullets that travel so fast that their shock waves mimic an explosion as they enter a body. He wants them because he enjoys them, and the Constitution gives him the right to have them. “I know I don’t need it,” he says of the AR-15. “The revolver, statistically speaking, is more than enough to defend myself.” Like the National Rifle Association, to which he belongs, Rodriguez doesn’t think an assault weapons ban will stop crime or violence. He does say background checks should be better enforced and that people like Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz should not be able to buy a gun.

from https://thecrimereport.org