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AR-15: What's in a name? - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

AR-15: What's in a name?

Posted: Feb 26, 2018 5:30 PM Updated:

After 17 people were killed in a school shooting earlier this month in Florida, pressure has been put on Congress to strengthen gun laws.

Some survivors of the shooting are calling for a ban on AR-15s, which is the type of gun used in the shooting.

Tom VanHoose, owner of Highwood Creek Outfitters, said there’s a lot of misconceptions about what kind of gun an AR-15 actually is; he said, “It’s not an assault rifle.”

Contrary to some public perceptions, the "AR" does not mean "assault rifle." An AR-15 - or ArmaLite Rifle, named for its manufacturer - is a semi-automatic weapon.

“The semi-automatic gun is one where you have to pull the trigger each time, but you don’t have to operate the bolt or the slide, it does it for you. They don’t have a full cyclic rate of fire, you have to pull the trigger each time you want the round to go off.”

A fully-automatic weapon, however, can continuously fire bullets as long as the trigger is pulled, according to VanHoose.

VanHoose said the popularity of AR-15s has gone up, especially among women: “They’re lighter than a standard hunting rifle, they have less recoil and a lot of ladies are using them to hunt.”

He said they may look scary, but they function just like a typical hunting rifle and many people use them to hunt.

“If you were to take an AR-15 to war, you’d wind up dead. They’re not made for combat.”

Regardless of whether you have a rifle or a pistol, though, VanHoose recommended training with your weapon as often as possible.

“You should practice at least once a month. More is better obviously, but to actually be familiar with you weapon platform and how to deploy it, it makes a big difference. If you don’t know how to use your gun, don’t carry one.”

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