Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Why The AR-15?

AR-15-style guns are among the most popular firearms in the country.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
AR-15-style guns are among the most popular firearms in the country.

After nearly every mass shooting, a few words are repeated over and over: Thoughts. Prayers. AR-15.

An AR-15-style rifle isn’t just the weapon of choice for the perpetrators of mass shootings in San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs and Parkland, it’s the weapon of choice for the nation. The NRA Blog even quipped in 2016 that the AR stands for “America’s Rifle” (they do note that it officially stands for ArmaLite Rifle):

Today, the AR-15 has soared in popularity amongst gun owners, due to a wide-range of factors. It is customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate that can be used in sport shooting, hunting and self-defense situations. Civilians can also modify and personalize their AR-15 from carbine-length, stocks, optics, barrels, etc. The AR-15s ability to be modified to your own personal taste is one of the things that makes it so unique.

The “So, SO, SOOOO many accessories” the post touts for the AR-15 can also make it hold more rounds and shoot more accurately. And since it can be customized to almost no end (there’s even a Hello Kitty model out there), the AR-15 can be a reflection of the owner’s personality. And when a gun is in the hands of potentially millions of Americans, many of whom will never shoot anyone, what does it say about the nation’s personality?


Paul Barrett, Deputy director, Stern Center for Business and Human Rights at New York University; author of “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun”; @AuthorPMBarrett

Rick Noble, Owner, Adventure Tactical Training, which offers active-shooter training; former Illionois police officer and SWAT team member

Adam Skaggs, Chief counsel, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence; @jadamskaggs

For more, visit

© 2018 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio.

Copyright 2018 WAMU 88.5

Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information