Instigator / Con
Points: 10

Should America ban the AR-15


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After 2 votes the winner is ...
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Three days
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One week
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Four points
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Contender / Pro
Points: 11
Many people claim the the AR-15 is a dangerous gun and should be banned in order to recuce the amount of mass shootings. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic carbine style rifle. A large amount of the people who support banning the gun get that statement wrong. I am against the ban as I do not see any strong reason to authorise a ban on this firearm.
Round 1
A lot of people in America see the AR-15 as the weapon of choice for mass shooters, and banning the firearm would reduce the amount of mass shootings. Seeing as the AR-15 is as effective as most other firearms, I do not see as to why people would choose to single out the AR-15 and attempt to authorise a ban on it.

Information about the firearm.
  • The AR-15 chambering is a .223 (5.56 x 45mm) which is very common in hunting and target shooting.
  • There is a common misconception that the AR in AR-15 stands for assault rifle. This is incorrect. The AR stands for ArmaLite Rifle, which is the company that manufactures the weapon.
  • The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle. Not a fully-automatic as some people believe. Fully-automatic rifles have been banned in America following the federal assault weapons ban of. 1994
What I do not understand is that there are other weapons similar, or more powerful than an AR-15. An example of this would be the Ruger mini 30. That weapon has the same caliber as an AK-47. (7.62 compared to the 5.56 in the AR) So why does no one want to ban the Ruger?

A social experiment by Steven Crowder showed that the people in support of banning the AR-15, usually does not no much about the gun itself. Those in favour support the banning of the gun, yet have absolutely no problem with the actual caliber of the weapon.

The actual gun itself is extremely popular for both hunting, and home defence. The compact, lightweight design means that it is easy to use and is favoured by small game hunting. Store and home owners also use it for self protection in the event of an attack because it is compact, lightweight, and easy to use.

Although people see the AR-15 as a dangerous weapon. At the end of the day, it is just as effective as other firearms available to the public. There is no reason to ban the AR-15.
For many years, AR-15s have been the firearm of choice in many mass shootings in America. Many experts have speculated that this is due to the perception of it being an unparalleled instrument of death from being used in the many mass shootings [1]. And while it may be true that the AR-15s reputation is unjustly deserved quite up to that extent, it is also true that regardless of reputation, it is an effective weapon. It is accurate, reliable, versatile and most importantly, it is freely available. I offer these reasons why they should be banned.

1. AR-15s have been involved in many heinous acts of humanity performed by civilians, namely mass shootings. Of the shootings in America from the last 35 years, at least 13 involved the use of an AR-15 [1]. If humans cannot use tools responsibly, then that tool must be taken away.

2. The benefits and legitimate uses provided by the AR-15 to humanity are not unique to the AR-15. Functionality of this particular class of armament can be replaced by other firearms. And in many cases, it would be more appropriate to do so. For example, just as one does not need a machete to slice open an orange, nor does one need an AR-15 for target shooting or hunting. Instead, one may use a bolt-action rifle. The benefit over an AR-15 being in this case that a bolt-action rifle cannot inflict quite the same amount of injuries when used in mass shootings, in general having limited internal capacity and slower rate of fire [2].
Round 2
“AR-15s have been the firearm of choice in many mass shootings in America.”
What makes you believe that? 11/19 (almost 60%) of mass shootings alone did not use a rifle of any type. It is handguns that take up the majority of homicide incidents. (80%) According to a 2016 FBI investigation, handguns kill roughly 19X more people compared to all rifles combined. The idea that the AR-15 is the firearm of choice is a myth in order to gain support for a ban on the weapon.

“it is an effective weapon. It is accurate, reliable, versatile...”
A firearm is a weapon. The purpose is to kill. Why do you want to ban something because it is more effective at doing its job? Do you want a firearm that doesn’t kill? Yes, it is accurate, reliable, versatile, ect. That is a good thing. Having an inaccurate, unreliable weapon is not. Having something be better compared to others is not a reason to ban it. In fact, it is the opposite.

“The benefits and legitimate uses provided by the AR-15 to humanity are not unique to the AR-15.”
You further explained my point in my first statement. There are many other types of weapons that are similar or more powerful than the AR-15. Why do people not talk about banning them instead? As I said before, the Ruger mini 30 has the same rate of fire and a higher caliber. The reason people don’t talk about banning it is because it looks safe. It looks like a normal hunting rifle. But because the AR-15 looks scary, people want it gone.
My opponent has made two claims in favour of keeping the AR-15.

First, my opponent suggests that the gun is extremely popular for hunting and home/store defence.

In the case of hunting, this argument is easily dismissed. No recreational activity should stand in the way of the limiting of a lethal weapon that is used negatively in the loss of human life. Apart from this, the AR-15 may be trivially be replaced by some other firearm such as a bolt action rifle which is equally as effective in hunting [1].

In the case of home and store defence, my opponent suggests that the AR-15 is popular due to it being compact, lightweight and easy to use. Again, these properties are not limited to the AR-15. Handguns for example obviously achieve the same criteria while on average being less lethal [2]. Moreover my opponent has not actually demonstrated that the AR-15 is commonly used for such purposes. For, while it is obvious that a person keeping an AR-15 may declare that it is used for home defence/store defence, it is decidedly less obvious that the AR-15 is actually used for such purposes in any meaningful manner such that the objectives may not also be accomplished with a different approach or different tool. In light of this clear schism between purpose and use, simply declaring a use case should not stand in the way of the limiting of such a lethal weapon.

Secondly, my opponent suggests that the AR-15 is just as effective as other guns, with some guns being more so. I do not dispute this. However this is not an argument on the merits of keeping the AR-15 in itself, it's an argument that there are other guns just as bad. However just because there are other guns that are just as bad, does not mean that the AR-15 should not be banned. One might even reasonably conclude that this is an argument that they should both be banned.

Round 3
I agree with you in terms of the AR-15 having the same, or very similar properties to other guns. What I am questioning is that if other guns have the same or similar properties, then why is the AR-15 the only gun being used in mass shootings? The answer is because it is not. Handguns are the weapon used. Handguns are used in 80% of all gun related homicides. You claim that handguns are less lethal. What makes a gun less lethal than another one? 

I have another question for you. Let’s say that America does ban the AR-15. How would that prevent further mass shootings? As you have also said, there are other guns available. You said that if the Ruger mini 30 has similar properties, it should be banned too. Now that is two guns banned. Semi auto shotguns. A man walked into a Mosque in New Zealand and killed 49 people using a semi auto shotgun. Ban that too? All those guns can be considered dangerous in the wrong hands. Ban all pistols considering they are responsible for 80% of homicides? Sure, why not.

At what point does the discussion eventually turn to banning every firearm available. I have a secret to tell you. Guns are dangerous. The purpose of guns is to literally kill. Actually, almost everything in your life is dangerous. Will you need a photo ID to buy a kitchen knife because someone can use it to stab people in the streets? You are 4X more likely to be stabbed than to be shot with any type of rifle. Maybe we should be talking about how more people die from knives compared to the scary AR-15. What happens when we ban all guns. There are multiple cases in Australia of someone stealing a vehicle and killing multiple pedestrians. More recently, a man in Melbourne stabbed and killed 3 people. Further grounds we should ban knives?

That is why I disagree with banning the AR-15. Once that is gone, what weapon is next. Maybe the Ruger. Ban that too? Eventually America won’t have anything left except a BB gun. What gun control advocates fail to see is that guns are used for self defence a lot more than it is for homicides, armed robbery, ect. And when I say a lot more, I mean a lot more. I’m talking about almost 90% of all gun related incidents. That’s ~3 million lives saved by guns.

Instead of banning weapons at random, focus on what makes a person choose to do a mass shooting in the first place, then prevent it from happening. A lot of school shooting happen due to bullying. If you prevent bullying, then you prevent school shootings. 80% of all gun related homicides are drug related. Fix the drug problem and there is 80% of all gun homicides gone. It isn’t the gun that is the problem. It is the people behind the trigger.

Thank you for this very fun and interesting debate. Good luck in the voting stage.
First, my opponent has chosen to take issue with my claim that AR-15s have been the firearm of choice in many mass shootings in America.

My previous source indicated that of the shootings in the last 35 years, at least 13 have involved the use of an AR-15. Have mass shootings become so commonplace in American society that at least 13 heinous acts of human violence within 35 years cannot be considered many?

Regardless of how my opponent has attempted to diminish the AR-15s role in mass shootings, this does not change the fact that yes, the AR-15 has been involved in mass shootings and yes, they were effective in those mass shootings. Rarity should not be a factor when determining whether something should be banned or not, only the impact when used.

Consider for example instruments of biological warfare which are and were very rarely applied. These types of weapons were banned due to their horrific nature, but it is also true that guns have killed and maimed far more than they ever will. My opponents logic suggests that instruments of biological warfare should therefore not have been banned which is of course absurd.

An example such as the Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest mass shooting event in American history in which AR-15s were used to great effect in combination with bump stocks should be considered no different. It, and the other examples of mass shootings demonstrate the vicious efficiency in which the AR-15 can cut through life. This is no different to the horrors brought by biological agents in resolution, only in application. And hence AR-15s should be banned.

Secondly, my opponent has asserted that the ability to kill is not a negative. Indeed he claims that it is a positive, that guns should be effective at their job and hence is not a reason for banning them, in particular the AR-15.

To this, I say that my opponent has wrongly interpreted my words. I did not argue that AR-15s should be banned because they are efficient and effective at what they do. I merely noted that they possessed those qualities.

Finally my opponent has asserted again that there are many weapons that are more powerful than the AR-15.

Again, I do not disagree with this. But this is just not an argument against banning the AR-15. This is an argument that there are other weapons just as bad. However, my opponent has not argued that either weapon is good and should therefore not be banned. Thus, because the AR-15 has a proven track record of death, the conclusion can only be that both guns must be banned. However for the purposes of this debate topic, just the AR-15 suffices.

A few points of note before the end however. My opponent claims that no one speaks of banning guns other than the AR-15. This is false. Much discussion has been made over various assault weapon bans [1]. This includes not only the AR-15, but others of its class. Finally my opponent claims that people only wish AR-15s to be banned because they look deadly. Apart from this being unsubstantiated, I find there to be a much more reasonable explanation. AR-15s have a proven and consistent track record of murder.

--> @oromagi
Sounds like a good idea. I don't have time now, but maybe later?
--> @Alec
I don’t buy any of that. We should debate US death penalty sometime- maybe California’s recent stay.
--> @oromagi
It's cheap, it saves lives and an eye for an eye is a proportional means of justice.
--> @Alec
Ok- name 3 benefits to NZ for such a change in policy. Don’t forget that NZ takes nonviolence as seriously as any nation on earth
--> @oromagi
I want New Zealand to bring back the death penalty for murder so this guy can get killed painfully.
--> @Alec
NZ abolished death as a penalty for murder in 1957.
--> @oromagi
I hope the Christchurch shooter gets the death penalty. Lethal injection is too nice. He deserves more pain.
--> @GuitarSlinger
Go research how many people have actually been killed by AR-15's...
I did on Saturday. If I remember right the 2016 estimate was less than 200 people. I couldn't get an estimate for 2016 mass shootings but as far as I could n tell none of the highly visible mass shootings involved AR-15s in 2016.
The reasoning behind banning AR-15's is because they are considered dangerous...correct?
I think it is well established that any guns are dangerous. Brendo's question is why are AR-15s singled out particularly. I think Brendo is correct that the AR-15 just looks meaner and more militaristic than other guns that actually kill more people annually but also because AR-15s have been used to perpetrate some of the most infamous mass shootings. I probably think these causes are more consequential than Brendo does but let's agree that any gun ban should have a more rational basis than perception.
My point to you was that comparing species (AR-15) to category (cars, knives) is not particularly informational: it doesn't really tell you whether AR-15s kill more people than other rifles.
Saying that you will wait until our human(and primate before human) propensity for murder magically goes away is essentially a confession that you have no plan for gun safety. I asked you what safety measures gun owners would be willing to support in an effort to reduce gun violence and you responded don't take away my guns. How do we find a middle ground if the dialogue is always only polarities set in stone?
--> @oromagi
The debate is about banning AR-15. The reasoning behind banning AR-15's is because they are considered dangerous...correct?
Go research how many people have actually been killed by AR-15's...
I do not support any gun regulations because I feel that doesn't address the issue. The issue is not the guns, the issue is the people. THe human heart. Getting rid of guns, stricter gun controls, etc doesn't get to the heart of the problem-- a person's desire to kill/injure another person. THAT, is the problem.
As long as Man (Woman) have the desire/propensity to harm/kill another person, do not remove my ability to defend myself (take away my guns).
--> @GuitarSlinger
"Let's keep some perspective folks. AR-15's, while they certainly make for eye-catching headlines, are not the greatest danger.
In 2016, over 40K people were killed in vehicle accidents. While I don't know the exact stats, my gut tells me the number of people killed by AR-15's is MUCH MUCH LOWER (I say that facetiously)."
40,000 Americans (1.25 million people) were killed in car accidents in 2016. An apt comparison would be 34,000 Americans were killed by gun. Just picking out one type of rifle and comparing to overall car accidents make no sense.
"In 2016, more people were killed by KNIVES than by AR-15s (according to the FBI)."
True, but that's like saying more people were killed by bicycles than by Kia Rios (the most accident prone brand of car in 2016). It's true, but it doesn't necessarily mean that Kia Rios are therefore safer than bicycles. Are we trying to identify ways to improve safety or are we just providing cover so that Kia doesn't ask why its product kils more people, so govts don't ask why Kia's product kill more people? Now apply to AR-15s
"While I respect the "March for our Lives" movement, etc the fact remains, a student is more likely to be killed in a vehicle ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL than they are by a school shooting...."
Actually, that statistic is close to tipping. 2017 was probably the first year in a century that US gun deaths exceeded auto deaths in the US in a century. The point is that 50 years of government regulation reduced an Americans chance of dying in a car by roughly 50%, autonomous vehicles could bring the present stat down another 90% by 2050. Americans have a plan for traffic safety. What is our plan for gun safety? What regulations would American gun owners support that might bring gun deaths down?
Let's keep some perspective folks. AR-15's, while they certainly make for eye-catching headlines, are not the greatest danger.
In 2016, over 40K people were killed in vehicle accidents. While I don't know the exact stats, my gut tells me the number of people killed by AR-15's is MUCH MUCH LOWER (I say that facetiously).
In 2016, more people were killed by KNIVES than by AR-15s (according to the FBI).
While I respect the "March for our Lives" movement, etc the fact remains, a student is more likely to be killed in a vehicle ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL than they are by a school shooting....
Christchurch is probably big news in Australia right now.
--> @dustryder, @Brendo
I predict this debate will be good.
--> @Brendo
If you have a taser, you can use it much more freely against an intruder, since the intruder won't die. A thick jacket conducts electricity so I think a taser would work in stunning an intruder with a gun.
--> @Alec
I do not know much about the NRA so I cannot answer your question about that. As for tasers, they are not as effective as firearms. By pointing a gun at a person, the person on the other end should consider the danger. A taser does not have that same effect and the person would not react the same. A large amount of gun incidents in America do not actually involve the person pulling the trigger. They just point the gun at them until they go away. Also, there are multiple times when a taser would not work at all when deployed. Something as simple as a thick jacket would prevent a taser from being able to shock the person.
Criterion Con Tie Pro Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Welcome to both of you! I will wrap a little feedback into my RfD for your benefit. I will include (FB) when the note is for feedback and not part of my RfD
Cons primary argument is that the AR15 is little different than many other weapons, and does have other uses.
Pros starting argument is that the AR-15 is particularly used in a lot of mass shootings, and it’s effectiveness at killing people. Pro makes the case that other weapons can be used for legitimate roles that the AR-15 is currently used for.
So far, this undermines pros point on legitimate use, and shows a specific harm that warrants a ban.
Con points out that most gun deaths are not AR-15s and this I feel undermined pros argument from how widely it is used.
I did not feel cons argument that just because it is effective doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be bad. First it appears to concede that it’s more effective than other weapons, and it ignores that pros argument isn’t effectiveness - but effectiveness at killing people that is at issue.
Pros hammers home his point that the legitimate usages of the gun can be replaced with other guns. He argues that if the gun con cites is just as dangerous - it should be banned too - I felt this was particularly good (FB: Con left himself open to this attack by talking solely about the AR-15 remember the ban pro must support could be larger than AR-15. Pro could have also argued for a broader and wider ban if he had desired.)
(FB Note: this felt mostly like a rehash of R1 by pro - I think okay to rebut immediately preceding arguments in this type of policy debate unless otherwise stated. It makes for a nicer flow)
Con continues to hammer the usage of the AR-15 claiming it’s not used in most mass shootings, he also asks about other weapons to be banned - how many should be banned?
I don’t find slippery slopes particularly good arguments, but con does point out the potential issues with where you draw the line.
Pro points out deaths in Las Vegas and effectiveness of the weapon, and mostly reiterates the previous rounds, on points I have already mostly discounted.
What pro doesn’t do, is argue an effective case as to what impact banning the gun would have. This is important as pro has to convince me that there is benefit to banning the gun.
In my view pro gets me most of the way there by stressing the particular effectiveness, and how good it as killing - together with negating the possible downsides.
At this point, though, cons argument that pro didn’t counter is that a ban won’t have any benefit. However - pros main argument that con didn’t counter is that there isn’t really any harm.
Pro was in the better position to win here, but didn’t really address pros final concerns head on (banning all weapons).
Because of this I both sides pulled me in their direction - but neither pulled me far enough to their side to award a win.
Thus, arguments are tied.
Pro makes good use of sources to boost his warrant. The guns and ammo link, and global news link confirm the main crux of his argument which in my view put these out of the realm of contention. His mass shooting ar15 links from USA today in round 1 were particularly good. This is a good usage of links to prove that what you’re saying is true, and made it harder for con to contest the basics - as a result I felt pros sources bolstered his warrant on key points.
Con on the other hand did not offer sources.
Sources to pro.
Criterion Con Tie Pro Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
First- it is nice to see some new people debating. Second- I admire the quick, concise, easy-to-digest nature of this debate- bullet-points, counters, done. I'd like to see more debates from both participants.
Con identifies a genuine benefit (less mass shootings) and argues that the suggested policy will not achieve that benefit because the policy focuses on one unremarkable type of rifle.
Pro takes two approaches to this argument that undermine each other: AR-15 are sufficiently unremarkable that their functionality may be easily replaced by other weapons but also AR-15s are more common to mass shootings and more lethal than handguns. In R1, Pro argues that AR-15s main harm is perception, in R2, lethality. At the end of R2, Pro concedes that other gun types are more are lethal and argues that perhaps more gun types should be banned- essentially conceding that AR-15s do not merit special legislation. In R3, Pro argues that Con's perception argument is unsubstantiated, undermining his opening argument ("Many experts have speculated that this is due to the perception....").
Con's slippery slope in R3 doesn't help the case, but Con essentially wins this argument by concession.
Con also argues that AR-15s are effective for legal purposes- sport, home defense. Pro counters that AR-15s are overpowered for such purposes and that the costs in lives outweigh the benefits of sport and home defense. Con makes no counter to this argument except to say effectiveness alone is no cause for ban. Pro wins this argument.
Neither side presented a particularly formidable case (it was a short debate, after all) but Con wins the edge on overall arguments because Con did not undermine his own argument. Much of the debate hinged on what singles out AR-15s for banning and Pro needed a more direct response. If Pro had set out a stronger argument for increased AR-15 lethality, I think Pro wins this debate.
Sources to Pro. Although Pro's sources were relatively weak (there are good govt. and scientific papers on this topic), Con desperately need some sources. Con had way better statistics but killed the effect by failure to source- AR-15 facts, Steven Crowder, 60% of mass shootings hand guns, etc. The lack of sources weakens readers confidence in those stats considerably: if handguns do 80% of killing but also kill 19 times more than rifles, what guns are killing the other 15%? Con seemed to have better research but failed to show the work.
Spelling & Conduct fine. I'm an American who curses the 2nd Amendment's impact on my society regularly so my bias would tend to Pro. Nevertheless, I think Con maintained the slight advantage in this debate.