Features and Lawful Common Uses of Semi-Automatic Rifles

240 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2019 Last revised: 5 Oct 2021

Date Written: July 16, 2019


This paper tests assumptions about military-style semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, such as the belief that pistol grips and hand guards facilitate mass murder by enabling shoots to spray fire from the hip; that certain features are useful in combat and crime but not in sporting applications; and whether such firearms are “commonly used” for lawful purposes. By examining 90 years of U.S. Army marksmanship doctrine for most individual, shoulder-fired weapons adopted by the U.S. since the end of World War I; military theory and practice respecting infantry combat; prior research on topics including the impact of magazine capacity on casualty rates in gun crime, the efficacy of various calibers of ammunition in the self-defense; and the history of civilian and military firearms design, it concludes that the AR-15 is not a military weapon; is useful for and used in all legitimate civilian shooting applications; and is not deadlier than other firearms in criminal assaults including mass public shootings.

Keywords: Second Amendment, 2nd Amendment, AR-15, Assault Weapons, Selective Fire, Semi-Automatic

Suggested Citation

Chapman, Dennis, Features and Lawful Common Uses of Semi-Automatic Rifles (July 16, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3436512 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3436512

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