My Turn: Veterans don’t want to ban AR-15 rifles

For the Monitor
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Instead of simply thanking us for our service over the Veterans Day weekend, current and former Monitor editors delivered a double-barreled attack on our Second Amendments rights. Mike Pride opined that “military veterans” know that the constitution “was never meant to allow private ownership” of AR-15 semi-auto firearms. I’ve done a lot of fundraising for veterans groups, and the vast majority of the vets I work with do not favor banning AR-15 rifles. Here are a few facts:

1) Any veteran who used a full auto M-16 assault rifle to qualify in the military (I used one to make Expert in 1970), knows the difference between a machine gun and a semi-auto rifle. Calling the AR-15 a “military assault weapon” is totally false. The AR-15 functions just like any other semi-auto self-loading firearm.

2) Semi-auto firearms are far and away the most popular in the country, be they pistols, rifles or shotguns. In fact, the AR-15 platform is the most popular rifle in America. Period. The Brownells catalog, which is the benchmark for firearm parts, devotes the first 94 pages to parts and accessories for AR platform rifles.

3) AR-15 platform rifles are used for target shooting, informal plinking, practical shooting competitions, hunting and self defense. AR-15s are offered in many calibers from .22 rimfire to .308 Winchester.

4) I applaud the Aug. 23, 2014, front page article that Monitor staff writer Megan Doyle wrote titled “His Sweet Spot.” It pictured a disabled veteran shooting a target with his Ruger SR-556 rifle, which is based on the AR-15 platform. The article centered on how recreational activities like target shooting were beneficial to disabled people. In fact last month, the Pioneer Sportsmen club in Dunbarton hosted a 3-Gun (pistol, rifle, shotgun) match that raised over $12,000 for the Aiming For Zero project, dedicated to helping prevent veteran suicides. Interestingly, almost all of the rifles used in the match were AR-15s.

Lastly, it’s totally ironic to me that liberal/progressive people who call President Donald Trump fascist, Nazi, Hitler, white supremacist and Russian collaborator also want to disarm the people and in so doing give more power to the government he controls.

I love my country, and I was proud to serve it. However, I’ll always have a healthy fear of a government that wields too much power. So did our Founders, which is why they insisted on a Bill of Rights.

(Mike Briggs lives in Hopkinton.)