Senator Dianne Feinstein has spent the last 26 years pushing gun control at the federal level and earlier this month demonstrated her willingness to distort facts and Supreme Court precedent in her ongoing effort to restrict your Second Amendment rights. During a confirmation hearing for President Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, Feinstein ludicrously claimed that semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15 – long heralded as “America’s Rifle” – are not “in common use.”
We now have more than 16 million reasons to disagree with her.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, has calculated the number of semi-automatic rifles – including AR and AK pattern rifle – produced (minus those exported) and imported in the U.S. on an annual basis between 1990 and 2016. During that time, there have been approximately 16,069,000 AR and AK semi-automatic rifles available for sale in the United States.
NSSF estimated that there were 2.3 million semi-automatic rifles manufactured or imported into the United States in 2016. Their figures trace the growth of the market through the late 1990s and early 2000s, with 2009 ushering in a modern boom. There were more ARs and AKs produced in the U.S. in 2009 than there were produced and imported in 2008. The same is true of 2012, of 2013, and of 2014. Domestic production ebbed in 2014, but then rebounded strongly in 2015 and peaked in 2016.
Plotting these production numbers with recent control of Congress and the White House reveals an obvious pattern; one can see the impact of anti-gun politicians on spiking production numbers.
However, the market will only accommodate what consumers want, and we have seen strong background check numbers even as pro-gun allies won control of Congress and the White House. In 2017, there were more than five million NICS checks related to the sale of long guns and more than 2.9 million through the end of August this year.
The FBI doesn’t split semi-automatic rifles out from other rifles or shotguns in the “long gun” category, but NSSF Senior Vice President Lawrence G. Keane told Guns.com that, “Modern sporting rifles are the most commonly purchased rifle by Americans today.”
Needless to say, there is nothing “reasonable” or moderate about banning what is literally the most popular class of rifles in America. And the relative infrequency with which any sort of rifle (semiautomatic or not) is used in violent crime underscores the fact that the Americans who are buying these guns by the millions do so for lawful purposes.
In any case, the Supreme Court could not have been clearer in Heller that the arms protected by the Second Amendment depend on the choices of law-abiding Americans, not criminals.
And Americans have made their choice by elevating modern semi-automatic rifles to the top of the list.