Confirm: Are there legitimate reasons to own an AR-15?

Universally hated, universally loved, an AR-15 rifle can fire a lot of bullets in a very short amount of time.

Universally hated, universally loved, an AR-15 rifle can fire a lot of bullets in a very short amount of time.

This isn’t a story about whether the AR-15 should be banned, but after mass shootings like Las Vegas and Parkland, politicians often say there’s no legitimate reason to own an AR-15.

Allyson is a Verify viewer from North Richland Hills who is politically conservative. On this Verify Road Trip, she’ll see what I see, ask her own questions, and come to her own conclusions.

“I think people should have the right to own guns,” Allyson says when we first meet.

But as a mother with four young children, the AR-15 scares her.

“We have all these other opportunities for hunting and sport. So why does it have to be the AR-15?” Allyson wants to know.

Allyson has never fired a gun before. And I only shot once, a long time ago. So we’re at Crossfire Defense Academy with Jerah Hutchins. She is an NRA certified gun instructor and teaches both of us how to shoot.

“Pulling the trigger felt like a big decision. It was intense for me,” Allyson says after shooting for the first time.

“Wow. Lots of power,” I say.

There are no hard numbers, but by most estimates, millions of Americans own an AR-15 rifle.

“What do people use the AR15 for? What is his job?” I ask Jerah.

“Self-defense, hunting, competition,” says Jerah.

“Is there a reason we need to have an AR15?” Allyson asks Jerah.

“I would tell you that the sport of hunting demands it. But more than that, the reason you should have one is simply because you can,” says Jerah.

Brian Donovan also met us at the shooting range. He is a lifetime NRA member who hunts 100 days a year. He got his first gun when he was 4 years old.

“What is lost if you don’t have access to the AR-15. What’s lost?” I ask Brian.

“I’m losing the most effective tool to protect my life and that of my family,” he says.

“Well, I have four children. I am very aware that this is the world we live in. It’s really difficult for my kids to have lockdown exercises at school,” says Allyson. “If we could take away that option and make my kids safer, why can’t we?” she asks Brian.

“Of course somewhere in the back of your mind you’re wondering if someone is going to go onto campus and do something bad someday?” says Brian. “But my solution to this isn’t that the thought of it scares me that much. I want to punish law-abiding people in ways that aren’t really going to impact a crazy person’s ability to do crazy things,” he says.

Now we head to the countryside to hunt pigs with an AR-15. The US Department of Agriculture says feral pigs eat crops, transmit diseases to livestock and raid hay meadows.

Nationwide, that’s 1.5 billion in damage.

Kristen Cogan is a rancher in southern Oklahoma.

“Why the AR-15? Is that the only option for pig hunting?” Allyson asks Kristin.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the only option. I would say it’s the most effective option,” she says. “To me it’s a tool, like a carpenter uses a hammer as a tool. AR is a tool for me,” says Kristin.

“What handicap of not having access to that gun?” I ask.

“That would be a big handicap,” says Kristin. “You won’t find a better hog hunting rifle than the AR-15,” she adds.

It’s night now and then the pigs come out. We go hunting with Jeb Bailey of Suspect Outfitting in Allen, Oklahoma as our guide. He prefers the AR-15 with a thermal scope to a bolt-action rifle.

“You don’t have to worry about ripping out a bolt every time you’re trying to kill a large batch of pigs. Ultimately, you just have to keep pulling the trigger over and over again,” says Jeb.

We go out into the forest.

Jeb bait pigs with feed so he knows where to find them. Using a thermal scope that allows you to see in the dark, he finds a group of 10-12 pigs. Allyson and I aim and shoot.

We each fired 12 shots in about 5 seconds and killed a pig.

“That’s probably a $1,000 damage,” says Jeb.

“$1000 would the pig have done any damage?” I ask.

“Yes,” says Jeb. “It was good shooting. I am very impressed. For two people who had never shot,” he adds.

“We opened that thing up, huh?” David says.

“(You) shot away,” he says.

So are there legitimate reasons to own an AR15?

“Yes. There are legitimate reasons,” Allyson says. “For this purpose of hog hunting, I could absolutely see how it would be an effective and efficient way to manage the population,” she says.

But Allyson seems just as scared of the AR-15 as she was at first.

“It happened so quickly. No time to react. How could one defend oneself against it. You’re just done,” says Allyson.

Allyson doesn’t like them, but we checked to see if there were any legitimate uses for the AR-15.

Don’t take my word for it.

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