Debunking The Meme

A friend posted the following meme, from the site The Other 98, their mission:

We specialize in spanking greedy corporate asses for the harder working classes and provide a home on the internet for the millions of Americans who want to fight the power and make our country work for the other 98% of us.

Other98 is the only group out there with the kind of massive audience, bold language, and knack for storytelling that we need to create the seismic cultural shifts we need to change the world. Join us.

They have 5.2 M followers.

The Meme


Implying that the AR-15 is a common factor and presumably a causative and contributing factor.

First what is an AR-15?

The AR-15™ is a a lightweight, 5.56×45mm, magazine-fed, gas-operated semi-automatic rifle that has been in production since 1964.  It is a semi-automatic version of the United States military M16 rifle. Colt’s Manufacturing Company currently uses the AR-15 trademark for its line of semi-automatic AR-15 rifles that are marketed to civilian and law-enforcement customers. [Wikipedia]

Colt AR-15™ (model AR15A4)

It is what is commonly referred to as an assault rifle, which is a misnomer if we accept the Wikipedia definition of:  An assault rifle is a selective-fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine.  The AR-15™ is semi-automatic vice selective fire (automatic, burst, semi-automatic).

The characteristics of an assault rifle:

The U.S. Army defines assault rifles as “short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.” In a strict definition, a firearm must have at least the following characteristics to be considered an assault rifle:

  • It must be capable of selective fire.
  • It must have an intermediate-power cartridge: more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle, such as the 7.92×33mm Kurz, the 7.62x39mm and the 5.56x45mm NATO.
  • Its ammunition must be supplied from a detachable box magazine.
  • It must have an effective range of at least 300 metres (330 yards).

Rifles that meet most of these criteria, but not all, are technically not assault rifles.  op. cit.

Just to reiterate, the AR-15™ is NOT selective fire and therefore using the Army definition is NOT an assault rifle.

Was a Colt AR-15™ Used?

Aurora – No

The weapons used were:

  1. Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport rifle
  2. Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun
  3. Glock 22 handgun

Orlando – No

The weapons used were:

  1. SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle
  2. 9mm Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol

Las Vegas – Yes/Maybe

The weapons in the room were, it is unclear which were actually fired.

  1. four DDM4 rifles,
  2. three FN-15 rifles,
  3. one AR-15 rifle with forward front grip,
  4. one .308-caliber AR-10 rifle,
  5. one AK-47,
  6. at least one made-to-order LMT rifle, and
  7. one handgun.

Sandy Hook – No

The guns used were:

  1. Bushmaster XM15-E2S (.223)
  2. Glock 20SF (10mm)

Umpqua Community College – No (No long rifle was used)

All the guns actually fired were handguns:

  1. Smith & Wesson M99 (.40)
  2. Smith & Wesson M642-2 (.38)
  3. Taurus PT24/7 (.40)
  4. Hi-Point CF-380 (.380)
  5. Glock 19 (9mm)

Also found on the scene, but not used, was:

  1. Del-Ton DTI-15 5.56x45mm semi-automatic rifle
    Del-Ton, Carbine Rifle

San Bernardino – No

The weapons used were:

  1. DPMS A-15
  2. Smith & Wesson M&P15 (op. cit.)

Sutherland Springs – No

The weapon used was:

  1. Ruger AR-556
  2. an unidentified handgun that may or may not have been used.

The Weapon Related Common Denominators

Since the AR-15™ is not a common denominator in the seven incidents, a “yes/maybe” in one of the seven, what are the weapon common denominators?

  1. Semi-automatic, magazine fed long rifles were used in six of the seven incidents.
    1. six of seven of the incidents had long rifles that have cosmetic characteristics of assault rifle, such as:
      1.  A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.  [six of the seven incidents]
      2. A thumbhole stock. [zero of the seven incidents]
      3. A folding or telescoping stock. [six of the seven incidents]
      4. A grenade launcher or flare launcher. [zero of the seven incidents]
      5. A bayonet mount. [four of the seven incidents]

        Colt AR-15™ Bayonet Mount (photo credit freetobeinamerica)
      6. A flash suppressor. [six of the seven incidents]
      7. A forward pistol grip. [possibly one of the seven incidents]

        Forward Pistol Grip (Las Vegas) (Photo Credit Boston 25/NY Post)

Semi-automatic, magazine fed handguns were used in six of the seven incidents.

In one of the seven only handguns were used (Umpqua Community College) and in one only long rifles were used (Sutherland Springs).

The long rife common denominators that had the potential to add to the lethality of the incidents were:

  1. semi-automatic vice single shot, bolt or lever action.
  2. large capacity box magazines vice clips or tubular magazines.

The long rifle common denominator that had no potential to add to the lethality of the incidents was the cosmetic characteristics of assault rifle.

The handgun common denominators that had the potential to add to the lethality of the incidents were:

  1.  semi-automatic vice single shot or single action.
  2. large capacity magazines vice clips or revolvers.

This is an example of a semi-automatic long rifle that accepts large capacity box magazines with only one of the assault rifle cosmetic characteristics, a flash suppressor.  It is just as lethal as the long rifles used in the six incidents.

Springfield Armory M1A

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