Since the recent Colorado Grocery Store Shooting’s suspect allegedly used an AR-15 pistol, CNN decided to educate the public on how the platform differs from AR-15 rifles. We’re not here to downplay this recent tragedy. We’re here to fact check the mainstream media — so let’s get into it. 

“The AR-15 platform weapon — whether it’s in a long gun or pistol — essentially has the same firepower. It’s a semiautomatic made for combat.” -Timothy D. Lytton

Well, Timmy’s not completely wrong, the “firepower” is essentially the same. The length of the barrel isn’t going to change the gun’s ability to shoot any AR-15 type ammunition (which is a very long list). But saying that the AR-15 is a semiautomatic made for combat is like saying my kitchen knives from Walmart were made to be used by three star Michelin chefs for preparing sushi. Interesting bias, especially for a “gun industry expert” out of Georgia State University. Regardless of length, the AR-15 was designed for civilian use whether it be for recreation, competition or self-defense purposes. Verdict: TRUE.

“The AR-15 pistol is almost sort of a novelty.” -Timothy D. Lytton

springfield armory saint 556

Lytton compares the different AR-15 length variants to sports cars and how some may be more compact than others. As the highest selling rifle in the country, we’d hardly call any AR pistol a novelty. The definition of a novelty is a small toy, knick knack, or uncommon item. Seeing as how most gun owners would opt to not pay the NFA tax to own an “SBR” and instead go the AR pistol route instead, calling the platform a novelty seems almost like an unfounded insult. More on that later. Verdict: FALSE.

“You can stick the thing under a jacket.” – Timothy D. Lytton

You’d have to be a very tall person and wearing a trench coat to be able to conceal an AR-Pistol or a full length AR-15 no less. Have you seen John Wick? The little Russian church scene in the movie shows Keanu Reeves using a short-barreled rifle initially concealed by a large garment bag much bigger than the width of his person. Verdict: FALSE.

“If you want to build a rifle then you take an AR-15 frame and put a long barrel filter stock on it.” – Daniel G. O’Kelly 

First of all, what is a long barrel filter stock? We asked the all-knowing Google and even the search engine didn’t have an answer for us. Perhaps this former ATF agent just knows more than us. We think O’Kelly is referring to lower and upper receivers… perhaps this is why the ATF has been flip flopping on their “guidance” letters as of late. Verdict: Please cite your sources?

“AR-15s are usually semi automatic, meaning one bullet is fired every time the trigger is pulled.” – Ray Sanchez

Great job Sanchez, you are correct — that is the definition of semi-automatic. However, it’s important to note that AR-15 is just the platform name. Verdict: TRUE.

“Magazine capacity varies, usually starting at 10 rounds — the legal limit in some states — but sometimes holding 30.” – Ray Sanchez

Magazines definitely started at 30 rounds capacity. It was only after legislation changed in multiple states when standard capacity magazines were banned that manufacturers started to make more low capacity magazines such as 10 and 15 rounders. Of course magazine capacities will vary based on the firearm you use and its caliber. Calling a 30 round magazine a “high capacity magazine” is no different than calling an AR-15 an “assault rifle.” They’re all political terms. Verdict: More false than true.

“These guns were restricted by federal law for 10 years, until the so-called assault weapons ban expired in 2004. That ban restricted certain components of the gun, like the pistol grips and bayonet lugs, and limited magazine capacity to 10.” – Ray Sanchez

The ban referred to here is the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban or Crime Bill which has many names. However, those restrictions didn’t just go away after 2004. For example, Californians still have to abide by magazine capacity restrictions and the assault weapons regulations set in place in 2018. That’s how “featureless” accessories became so popular in the past few years. AR-15s are still restricted by several federal laws outside of California as well. Verdict: Misleading at best; doesn’t present the whole truth. 

“The versatility of the AR-15, including flash suppressors, pistol grips and even bayonets — makes it popular among gun enthusiasts.” – Ray Sanchez

If you know a fellow enthusiast with a bayonet build we’d love to see it because that sounds awesome. Verdict: TRUE

“If you want to build an AR-15 pistol you just put a pistol grip and short barrel on it. And as a result of those features it will be classified according to federal definition, as a pistol instead of a rifle.” – Daniel G. O’Kelly

pistol stabilizing brace ar15

Former ATF Agent O’Kelly is leaving out a lot of information here. Every AR-15, regardless of length, is going to have a pistol grip… that’s just what the part is called. Earlier, we mentioned “NFA” which stands for the National Firearm Act. This is where the short barrel comes into play. For any AR-15 style rifle that has a barrel less than 16 inches in length, it’s given the designation of a “short-barreled rifle” or “SBR” which require the NFA Tax Stamp. For rifles of this length, if it has a butt stock, it is classified as an SBR. If it does not use a butt stock and only has a buffer tube or a stabilizing brace it is then determined by the ATF as an AR pistol. Verdict: Should we be trying to get jobs at the ATF? 

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