By: Kendall Hemphill, San Angelo Live
OPINION — Honestly, no one with an IQ higher than plywood expects politicians to keep their campaign promises, but you have to admit Joe Biden has come closer than most. He said he would reverse a lot of Trump’s policies, and he’s kept his word on that. Unfortunately, they were policies that made sense. So unemployment is up, gas prices are up, building material prices are up, and illegal aliens from south and central America are coming up in droves. Keeping things down gets harder and harder these days, especially lunch.
Joe also promised to ban AR-14s, and although he hasn’t yet managed to do that, I’m thinking he just might pull it off. Provided, of course, someone actually produces a gun called the ‘AR-14.’ So far no such firearm exists. But way back in the 1950s, as Joe was just beginning his career in politics at age 73, it almost did.
Fairchild Aircraft Company owned a subsidiary called ArmaLite, which was a firearms company. They had some pretty innovative ideas, such as producing very lightweight firearms using a lot of aluminum parts. Designer Eugene Stoner, the inventor of the AR-15, worked with ArmaLite during that time on some of the ideas, and a whole line of guns was patented with the AR prefix, which stands for ArmaLite Rifle (not *gasp* assault rifle). The AR-1 was a bolt-action rifle, intended as a military sniper rifle, that looked pretty much like a Winchester Model 70. The barrel was composite, and consequently there were some minor issues. Like the barrel would get really hot. Sometimes it would explode. This was considered less than desirable in a military firearm, even during the 50s, so that one never really took off.
The AR-9 and the AR-17 were both shotguns with aluminum receivers. ArmaLite also designed the AR-5, a compact, bolt-action survival rifle which was intended to be marketed to the U.S. Air Force, but the Air Force said, ‘Nah.’ But ArmaLite really liked that one, so they redesigned it as a semiautomatic .22 LR survival rifle called the AR-7.
That one is actually still commercially available today, and it’s a really cool little package. It comes apart, and the barrel, receiver, and magazine all fit inside the plastic, waterproof stock, which floats, but only if you drop it in water. You can get one of those from the fine folks at Henry Repeating Arms. It comes in black, timber camo, or western camo. Tell them I sent you.
ArmaLite also planned a bolt-action hunting rifle called the AR-8, based on the AR-1, but never got around to making any of them. That’s the way it goes, with firearm designs, so you never know. Which is where the AR-14 comes in. There was a patent for it, but the company never actually produced any of them. Not that anyone can remember, anyway. This was back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, after all, and people forgot a lot of stuff back then.
One of the things Eugene Stoner is famous for is inventing a gas operating system for rifles. There’s a theory that ArmaLite was trying to disguise the fact they were working on a military rifle by making it look like it wasn’t a military rifle, but that’s just speculation. Which means it’s probably true. Anyway, the AR-14 design was used for the patent drawings for Stoner’s gas system. The AR-14 was a semiautomatic hunting rifle, but since none were ever built, I guess it’s going to be difficult for Joe to ban them. But maybe not.
But the winds seem to be blowing the other direction, anyway. Federal judge Roger Benitez, of the Southern District of California, recently ruled California’s ‘Assault Weapons Ban,’ which has been in effect since 1989, unconstitutional. Which, of course, it is. In his statement, Benitez said, “In California, murder by knife occurs seven times more often than murder by rifle. For example, according to FBI statistics for 2019, California saw 252 people murdered with a knife, while 34 people were killed with some type of rifle – not necessarily an AR-15. A Californian is three times more likely to be murdered by an attacker’s bare hands, fists, or feet, than by his rifle. In 2018 the statistics were even more lopsided as California saw only 24 murders by some type of rifle. The same pattern can be observed across the nation.” So AR-14s are evidently not used much in crime, I guess.
And the big news is that Texas is a constitutional carry state, which means no permit is required to carry a firearm, concealed or not. The gun control crowd isn’t happy about that, predicting murder and mayhem in the streets. But then, they predicted the same thing in schools a few years ago, when concealed carry was made legal there, and school shootings actually decreased. Almost all mass shootings occur in gun free zones, anyway. So I guess we’ll see.
If Joe does manage to ban AR-14s, we’re in big trouble. Because the next thing he’ll go after will be our magazines that hold 100 clips apiece . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and minister who never loads more than ten clips in a magazine. Write to him at [email protected]