A Democratic Senator from New Hampshire is accusing Americans who buy AR-15s of “buying it to do bad things.”
Senator Jeanne Shaheen was on WKBK Radio, according to BuzzFeed News reporter Andrew Kaczynski, when she said:
“The fact is, the AR-15, the gun that Mateen used, that’s a weapon of war. It’s advertised as being able to do, um, technologically advances in killing people that previous weapons have been unable to do and somebody who is buying that kind of a weapon isn’t buying it for target shooting. They’re not buying it to go out and hunt deer. You don’t need an AK-47 or an AR-15 to hunt deer. They’re buying it to do bad things and we need to recognize that and address it.”
Independent Journal Review (IJR) reached out Shaheen's office for clarification as to the identities of people buying AR-15 to "do bad things. Her communications director, Ryan Nickel, replied:
“She was obviously talking about terrorists.”
As Shaheen failed to note, Mateen did not use an AR-15. For more background on the AR-15 and popular media misconceptions of the rifle, Independent Journal Review (IJR) has a comprehensive explanation.
While it's unclear how many Americans own AR-15s, the vast majority of AR-15 owners aren't buying them to “do bad things”.
CNBC cites the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to say that there are between 5 and 10 million AR-15s in America. The news site notes:
FBI data show that in the five years ending in 2014 handguns accounted for at least 48 percent of all murders while rifles, including more traditional types of long guns, accounted for 2.4 percent.
“Americans own about five million AR-15s and it should go without saying that virtually all AR-15s are never misused,” the NRA Institute for Legal Action says on its website. “Many are kept for home protection, particularly now that carbine versions are available in many configurations suited for defense in the close spaces of a home, often in low light conditions.”
In addition, as the NSSF pointed out in 2011:
Nearly half (44 percent) of MSR [Modern Sporting Rifle] owners are current or former military or law enforcement members.
And about Shaheen's claim that AR-15s aren't for target shooting:
51 percent of MSR owners have a shooting-range membership.
Democrats failed again Monday to advance a series of gun control measures, and they've fallen back on blaming the NRA and Republicans.
Editor's Note: This story was updated after publishing to include clarification from Shaheen's office.