On December 22, The Daily Beast criticized the ongoing availability of AR-15s, suggesting shotguns are a sufficient type of weapon but are largely rejected as a substitute for ARs because they “lack capacity for mass carnage.”
The Daily Beast column is framed around guns seen at a gun show. The column’s author describes seeing a table full of “mid-level AR-15s” of various brands–DPMS, Smith & Wesson, and Bushmaster. He referenced talking to the gun show vendor about more expensive brands, such as Daniel Defense, and ultimately, concluded that ARs are “popular with boys who never quite grew up.”
The author then saw a table containing only hunting rifles and shotguns and suggested that these weapons were sufficient for the exercise of the Second Amendment but could not satisfy because they “lack the capacity for mass carnage.” He also suggested they “lack the military hoo-hah that apparently makes ARs” popular with those boys who never matured to manhood.
Lost on The Daily Beast is the fact that shotguns such as the Mossberg 500, the Remington 870, and the Benelli M4 can be outfitted with as much “military hoo-hah” as the mind can imagine. Moreover, because they are shotguns, they are far deadlier in close quarters than an AR-15.
An AR-15 shoots one bullet less than a quarter-inch wide every time the trigger is pulled, but a shotgun shoots multiple lead “shots,” which emerge from the end of the barrel in a grouping, or “pattern,” which is about 9 to 12 inches in diameter and close to the end of the barrel, but which expands the farther the grouping of shots travels. This pattern of shot–versus the single bullet of an AR-15–makes the shotgun perfect for situations where a homeowner may face multiple aggressors. Such a homeowner can take out two or three aggressors with one properly placed shotgun blast.
Will he kill all three home invaders with one trigger pull? It’s possible. But a far more-likely scenario is that he will kill one and wound two so badly that the attack will end.
This type of operation also makes shotguns perfect weapons for mass carnage. And The Daily Beast apparently forgot about the September 16, 2013, Navy Yard shooting, in which Aaron Alexis used a pump shotgun to mow down 12 innocents before law enforcement killed him.
The draw of AR-15s is that they provide something missing from shotguns–namely, the ability to make mid-to-long range shots, as well. Whereas the pattern of shot fired from a shotgun loses effectiveness the farther it travels–and normal birdshot loads can be completely ineffective by the time they travel 40 to 50 yards–shots covering hundreds of yards are possible with an AR.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.