AR-15-style rifles are designed to kill human beings, and their rise in popularity coinciding with a rise in mass shootings is probably not a coincidence. Republicans want to ensure Americans are able to obtain these killing machines as easily as possible, even in the wake of a string of mass shootings in which they were used to kill 10 in Buffalo, 21 in Uvalde, and, on Wednesday night, four in Tulsa. The shooter in Oklahoma bought his AR-15-style rifle just hours before using it to shoot up a medical facility.
It hasn’t been easy for Republicans to mount anything resembling a rational defense of AR-15-style rifles as they’ve been used to kill so many Americans. Most have simply gestured toward the Second Amendment (which does not, contrary to what the GOP says, enshrine the right to own an arsenal of lethal weapons without restrictions), but Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) dared to make the argument that while yes, AR-15-style rifles are the weapon of choice for mass shooters, they are indispensable because some people use them to kill varmints.
“In rural Colorado, an AR-15 is a gun of choice for killing raccoons before they get to our chickens,” he said during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence. “It is a gun of choice for killing, uh, a fox. It is a gun that you control predators on your ranch, your farm, your property. The idea that somehow we are going to deny access — I think there are 20 million AR-15s in circulation in this country — it makes absolutely no sense.”
"An AR-15 is a gun of choice for killing raccoons before they get to our chickens."
— Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) pic.twitter.com/uTFYUaLtuN
— The Recount (@therecount) June 2, 2022
Buck somehow isn’t the only Republican lawmaker to argue that the United States can’t restrict the purchase of high-powered rifles because some people use them for pest control. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said that in South Dakota they’re used “to shoot prairie dogs and, you know, other types of varmints.”
Sen. John Thune on AR-15s: "In my state, they use them to shoot prairie dogs and, you know, other types of varmints. And so I think there are legitimate reasons why people would want to have them." pic.twitter.com/BUJkLf3Apv
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 7, 2022
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told Vice News that he, too, believes AR-15s are necessary to exterminate small animals.
“If you talk to the people that own it, killing feral pigs in, you know, whatever, the middle of Louisiana, they wonder why would you take it away from them,” he said. “I’m law-abiding, I’ve never done anything, I use it to kill feral pigs. The action of a criminal deprives me of my right.”
.@elizlanders asked Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy why anyone would need an AR-15.
His answer: Feral pigs pic.twitter.com/MaTvWoPxQq
— VICE News (@VICENews) May 26, 2022
Salvador Ramos was also “law-abiding” before he used the rifles he legally bought just after turning 18 years old to kill 21 people in Uvalde last week, including 19 children.