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It’s That Time Again: NBC Gins Up Another Flawed, Fake News Piece on the Origins of the AR-15 Rifle

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By Lee Williams 

In their latest hit piece about an inanimate object, NBC News once again ignores facts, common sense and takes frequent liberties with the truth. 

The story, which was somehow labeled news rather than opinion, was published Sunday, titled: “What makes the AR-15 so beloved and so reviled: A rifle with military origins has become one of the country’s most divisive consumer products.”

For the two reporters who wrote the article, the problems began from the start. The headline is misleading – the military origins bit. Even the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank infamous for its anti-gun stories and its liberal and laughable PolitiFact website, takes issue with this claim.

In a story published last year, Poynter tracked the origins on the AR-15 and found it was “first developed in the 1950s for civilian use.” 

Poynter understands that today’s civilian semi-automatic AR has never been a military rifle. Eugene Stoner’s original AR-15 prototype, which later became the M16, was a select-fire weapon. The civilian version has always been semi-automatic. Thus, it was never designed for battle. It was designed for the civilian marketplace. No military has issued a semi-auto AR to their troops.

Gaslighting 

In their story, NBC News gaslights its readers about the effectiveness of the Bill Clinton’s “assault weapon” ban, which for 10 years banned the manufacture, sale or transfer of a large number of “assault weapons,” including several handguns and standard-capacity magazines. Joe Biden has frequently taken credit for the ban and falsely claimed it “brought down these mass killings,” which fact-checkers have repeatedly said is a false statement. 

“The effects of bans on mass shootings are difficult to determine. Researchers have found that the number of victims decreased when a nationwide ban on certain kinds of semi-automatic guns, including AR-15s, was in effect from 1994 to 2004,” the NBC story states. “Researchers also say the number of mass shootings rose after the ban ended. But they acknowledge that it is difficult to prove cause and effect.” 

This is complete bunk. A study commissioned by the Department of Justice in 2004 found no evidence that the ban had any effect on “gun violence.” 

“Should it be renewed,” the DOJ study states, “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

NBC claimed that researchers with the RAND Corporation, “looked at several studies of state and federal bans and found the evidence inconclusive.” RAND’s findings were actually a bit more concrete. They found no link between bans of “assault weapons” and standard-capacity magazines and decreases in violent crime. 

BREAKING NEWS: Rifles more powerful than pistols 

Sometimes the ignorance of today’s legacy media is simply stunning, especially when they’re writing about firearms. 

“Compared to handguns, AR-15s inflict much more damage to human tissue because of the faster speed at which the rifles fire bullets. Those projectiles are also more likely to break apart as they pass through the body, inflicting more damage. That makes victims more likely to have more serious injuries and more blood loss and more likely to die than with guns that fire with lower velocities,” the NBC story states. 

Wow. 

Don’t tell them about the .30-06, the 8mm Mauser, the 7.62x54mmR, the 7.62x51mm NATO, or any other military-issue rifle round, especially the .50 BMG.  

As to whether the round breaks apart, even the most novice shooter knows that a bullet’s performance – whether it bores a clean hole through the target or expands after impact – is not a characteristic of the weapon, but of the ammunition that’s fed into the weapon. 

Their high-velocity theory leaves a lot to be desired, too. I wonder how they’d explain the wounds that a 1911’s 230-grain fight-stopper can cause, even though the bullet’s traveling at third of the speed of a “high velocity” AR round.  

There’s a reason that ballistics is considered a science, and the authors of this story … well … these kids are definitely not scientists. 

Fake news

The authors cite a 2022 investigation by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform into the firearm industry’s marketing campaigns, which they acknowledge was led by Democrats. According to the authors’ interpretation of the investigation, gun companies “tout assault rifles’ military pedigree, make covert references to violent white supremacists like the Boogaloo Boys, and prey on young men’s insecurities by claiming their weapons will put them ‘at the top of the testosterone food chain.’” 

For anyone with even the most meager knowledge of firearms and how they’re marketed, this absolutely screams fake news. It may be the second-dumbest concept in entire the story, but first place goes to this gem: “The (AR) issue has split the nation.”

Nope. 

The AR “issue” has definitely not split the nation. ARs are flying off the shelves for a variety of good reasons. There are more than 25 million in gun safes all across the country. It became “America’s Rifle” long ago.

The only people on the other side of the issue are those who want to demonize the inanimate object and use it as a cudgel to leverage more gun control. This is all part of their playbook. They’re targeting ARs today. Tomorrow they’ll target all semi-autos, the next day everything else. ARs are just the first step toward their ultimate goal of total civilian disarmament. 

 

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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.

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