The BATFE recently released U.S. firearm manufacturer production data showing that during 2008, AR-15s accounted for eight percent of all firearms and 22 percent of all rifles made in the U.S. and not exported. The number of AR-15s in 2008 -- over 337,000 -- is staggering, but may have been topped in 2009. And, at the current rate of production, the total number of AR-15s in the U.S. will exceed 2.5 million some time this year, and that doesn't even count production before 1986, the figures for which are not available.
In other words, the AR-15 market has collapsed, because no one wants AR-15s. At least, that's what Josh Sugarmann, of the Violence Policy Center, wrote last week on the Huffington Post blog, where the fringe gathers to commiserate about everything it thinks is wrong with America. Sugarmann's evidence consists of the fact that KBI has discontinued its Charles Daly brand AR-15 line.
We're not sure what's happening on Sugarmann's planet, but on the American portion of Earth the numbers of AR-15 manufacturers and the AR-15s they produce are at all-time highs. AR-15s have been popular for decades and that popularity is growing in leaps and bounds for a variety of reasons. Innovations relating to defensive rifle use now center on AR-15 carbines. Bar none, the AR-15 in its various configurations is the leading marksmanship training and competition rifle in the country, and there are more kinds of training and competition opportunities built around the AR-15 than ever before. And the advent of new cartridges that fit the AR-15 platform, and which are legal for hunting deer-sized game in most states, are rapidly making the AR-15 one of the most popular hunting rifles in the country.
What's really losing popularity in America are the habitual rants and ruses of groups like VPC, as demonstrated by the fact that Sugarmann and his counterpart at the Brady Campaign, Paul Helmke, can't get their names into newspapers unless they perform a publicity stunt, and sometimes even the stunts don't work. Maybe if Josh, Paul, and a couple of their co-workers buy some National Match ARs, they could enter a team Service Rifle competition at this summer's NRA National Rifle Championships.
We can hear it now. "Team Malcontent, take your positions on the firing line!"