Despite the fact that millions of Americans own a variant of the AR-15, we are often questioned about why we own them. Most recently I was asked, “Is an AR-15 legitimate as a self-defense tool?” I don’t resent the question, but there exists a lack of honesty in the answers heard from politicians and the media. We hear, “The AR-15 is a weapon designed for war! It has no place on America’s streets!” However, in truth, AR-15s and so-called “black rifles” are used in self-defense by a would-be victim more often than you’d think.
A notable, and possibly the most heroic example of a good guy using an AR-15 to save lives, is the case of Stephen Willeford. You might recall seeing the tragedy of the attack on a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017. What you may not have heard was that Willeford confronted and wounded the assailant. The active shooter was prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law, but he opened fire on the parishioners of a small church, taking 26 lives and leaving 20 wounded. Alerted to the shooting in progress, Willeford grabbed an AR-15 and ran out the door of his home barefoot, all while loading rounds into a magazine as he went. He engaged the shooter and forced him to turn his violence away from the church. Willeford then managed to flag down a passing vehicle, and together the two men risked their lives in pursuit of the murderer. Willeford hit the shooter twice and wounded him severely. Bleeding and likely dying, the shooter took his own life. Willeford, an NRA-certified firearms instructor is regarded as a hero, though the mainstream media did not show him, nor his rifle, the respect that his actions warranted. “He had an AR-15, but so did I,” Willeford said.
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