On Tuesday, TheBlaze asked readers who own one or more semi-automatic rifles, like the AR-15, to explain why they chose that particular firearm. The response was overwhelming as hundreds of emails came pouring in from gun owners across the country.
Many claimed they use a semi-automatic rifle for home defense, while others said they regularly go hunting and target shooting with their firearms. However, many bluntly stated that they own a semi-automatic rifle because the Constitution says they can. Several readers also slammed Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) assertion that so-called "assault weapons" are nothing but "personal pleasures." Feinstein is leading the charge to ban "assault weapons" and high-capacity magazines.
TheBlaze has compiled some of the responses from readers defending their ownership of semi-automatic rifles, which includes AR-15s (the most popular response), AK-47s and the World War II-era M1 Garand. Surprisingly, there were a lot of responses from Californians. We've edited some of the responses for grammar.
Kerry, retired law enforcement officer, from Washington
I am in a unique position in that I am a retired Law Enforcement Officer after 32 years of service. In 32 years, I have never had an so called "assault weapon" pulled on me. Pistols, bottles, knives, screwdrivers, yes -- AR-15's no.
My wife and I keep an AR-15 for many personal reasons. I fell in love with them in the military and she loves shooting hers. We use them now for target shooting, competition and personal protection. As far as personal protection, I don't mean from someone breaking into my house, I find a pistol or shotgun much handier for limited close combat. I am speaking more in the way of a disaster such as Katrina. Living in the NW, we are overdue for an earthquake. Should we have one and due to the geographics of Washington, I don't expect any help from the government for quite awhile, therefore I may be required to defend my family from gangs of looters or thieves. Until that day comes, my AR-15 sits quietly in my fireproof gun safe, well oiled and sighted in for a day I hope never comes.
Mike from California
I ordered an AR-15 as a birthday gift for myself years ago and shot it over several years. Never gave it much thought it was just a nice Colt.
When the Los Angeles riots broke out, I realized how lucky I was to have that gun. That Colt kept my block safe, despite the fact they burned down the mall just 100 feet from my house.
When things got real, I carried that AR with me and patrolled the street around my block for 3 days. I had a couple of close calls but when the rioters came back and saw that Colt, they wanted no part of it.
Myself and a few other people on my block received awards from the city of Los Angeles because of our actions during the riots, but I think my Colt deserved an award. After all it kept my entire block safe!
W. Garcia from Phoenix, Ariz.
My girlfriend owns an AR-15 style rifle. She owns it because it is light and easy to shoot. She is 5'1" and 110 pounds. She cannot control our shotgun. She believes she can use the rifle to keep herself safe until the police arrive, which in my area can take a couple of minutes. She also uses it to compete, as she enjoys shooting sports. She asked me to include that she feels like the Democratic party doesn't respect her right to protect her body.
Chris from Atlanta, Ga.
I am a competitive shooter. Currently I shoot USPSA pistol matches but I plan on shooting some three gun matches (rifle, shotgun, pistol) and to be competitive in that sport you need a semi-automatic rifle with over 10 round magazine capacity, a shotgun with over 8 round capacity and a pistol with over 15 round capacity. This is my sport. I played football in high school and college. I dislike playing golf but I like the shooting sports. Yes, I also use my competition guns for home defense which shows they can be used for multiple uses. As to the suggestion that a "woman should just use a shotgun" proposed by Joe Biden, my girlfriend finds my AR-15 much easier to handle and shoot than my shotgun.
Matthew from Phoenix, Ariz.
As a still serving, currently retiring member of the United States military, I use my AR-15 semi-automatic rifle for every application I can, but self-defense and target shooting are the top two.
Recently, an intruder chose the wrong time to attempt to rattle my door knob. I had just finished putting the finishing touches on a charging handle upgrade when he figured it was a good time to check and see if my door might be unlocked.
He received a heck of a surprise when he peered through my front window and was looking down the 5.56mm opening at the business end of the barrel!
Luckily that day he chose to run off and not try his luck, but I don't think he'll ever forget it because I sure won't!
In all the time I have carried a duty weapon I have only ever pointed my weapon in the direction of two individuals. My AR-15 was one of these incidents.
My AR-15 DID protect my home and my daughter that day, I DID use it in self defense, I CAN use it efficiently and have been trained to and I TRUST IT WITH MY LIFE!!
Donna from Murray, Ky.
I am a 54 year old woman. I own more than one semi-auto. I have a 30-06 that I have used for years for Deer hunting. I also have a .223 (which is what they want to ban—which by the way is almost the same caliber as a .22—used to shoot squirrels, varmints and such) The .223 is kept for protection...The .22 Automatic (which holds about 16 bullets down the barrel and would be banned yet has been around for over a hundred years) is used to shoot varmints, and for rabbit hunting. I have several others, which really don’t have a specific “use” because most can be used for anything.
Ii people are taught about guns, as I was taught, and as I taught my children, you don’t have people that are “afraid” of them as the Anti-gun people are.
What people do not understand is that these guns they want to ban are exactly like “regular rifles” other than cosmetically.
John from California
My wife and I are lifelong Californians, I am 33 and she is 27. I am a firefighter and she is a stay at home mother of our two small children.
We have a "California Legal" AR-15 with flip up sights, collapsible stock, flame arrester, barrel shroud, pistol grip and a "fixed" magazine of 10 (detachable with a bullet button).
We chose this weapon for home defense because of how light it is, easy to shoot, incredibly powerful yet still accurate, fun to shoot, and although it is so powerful, it has little kick to it. We also enjoy shooting it for fun at targets.
Billy, from somewhere in the U.S.
I bought an AR-15 because I may, it's my constitutional right to do so. I use my AR-15 for target shooting (Appleseed), and I can hit a man-sized target at 400 yards. I also consider my AR-15 to be a home defense weapon. Criminals using guns killed 8,583 people in 2011. Only 358 of those homicides (4.2%) involved the use of a rifle. Dianne Feinstein has no factual basis for proposing a ban on "assault weapons," only an unspoken desire to disarm law-abiding citizens.
Chad, member of the U.S. military
I am a soldier of 16+ years. I shoot my AR-15 at target ranging from 25 to 800 yards. I participate in both "combat" and "high power" matches. I use high capacity magazines because the number of bullets range from 1 to 30 depending of the type of match. These matches help me to refine my skills as a shooter, therefore increasing my effectiveness as a soldier.
I am also teaching my wife to use it because of the fact that I travel a lot for both the military and my civilian jobs, leaving my wife alone at home with our two young boys. The AR-15 is a perfect weapon to teach someone to shoot because it is light weight and has very little recoil. With the high capacity magazines, it allows her to protect herself and our boys from multiple intruders while also giving her the leeway to miss her intended target. We all know that when someone is confronted with a home intrusion, unlike the movies or TV, you are going to miss sometimes.
Jeff from Salt Lake City, Utah
I use my AR-15 mainly for target shooting. However, If the need did arise, I would use it for both hunting and self-defense of my family, myself, and my country.
Christopher from California
I was compelled to respond because I am not only a gun owner but a Californian resident. I use my "firearms," in a limited bases. I have several firearms--pistols and semi-automatic rifles that I have never fired.
I am a son of a U.S.A. Army veteran and a grandson of a command sergeant major with 30 years of service. I am also a former boy scout which has taught me to always be prepared.
I have these firearms for just that reason. I want to be prepared, to be responsible for my safety of my family and if ever the case, my community.
Feel free to join the conversation in the comments section below. Did any of these Blaze readers make a good case against banning semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15?
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