Why Do People Own AR-Platform Rifles?

Gun Culture 2.0

Preliminary: “AR” is an abbreviation for ArmaLite, the company that developed the rifle, not “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.”

Also, the question here is why DO people own ARs, not why SHOULD they. I am dealing with the empirical issue not the normative one, although normative considerations would probably benefit from understanding the situation empirically.

I saw about 5 minutes of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning. One of the guests was former Reagan speech writer and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan. Noonan asked, quite sincerely in my judgement, why do people have AR-platform rifles? Good question.

I have argued, following up on James Wright’s work from the 1990s, that sociologists have largely disregarded the lawful use of firearms by legal gun owners in favor of studying guns strictly from criminological and epidemiological perspectives. (Download and read my full argument about “The Sociology of U.S. Gun Culture”…

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