"He crossed state lines."

Rittenhouse couodn’t legally carry a handgun, so it was a rifle or nothing.

A gun like an AR-15 has a lot of advantages in a ‘tactical’ situation like this. They are lighter than wooden stock hunting weapons, They have sling mounts for easier carry, a pistol grip for easier handling, they have composite or metal stocks that don’t get dented and chipped when you bump into things, they are more compact and less likely to be in the way, etc.

Rifles like the AR-15 are less powerful than a typical hunting rifle. Peoole like them because they are light, reliable, rugged, easy to aim amd shoot, easy to strip and clean, cheap to practice with because of the surplus .223 ammo, and there are gobs of accessories available to customize the look and feel of the gun, which hobbyists tend to like. They also look ‘military’, which appeals to some people.

But mostly they are liked by civilians for the same reasons the military likes them, which is all about utility, not because they are deadlier than other rifles.

Except when there are circumstances that make it federal: the murder of a federal employee, a murder taking place on federal property (e.g. a post office), a conspiracy that crosses state lines, murder committed in the furtherance of a federal crime (e.g., drug trafficking), etc.

Thank you all for your responses, and yes I will try not to derail the thread with that subject.

This has probably already been addressed, but it’s factually wrong. He didn’t shoot when a bag was thrown at him. He shot the first guy after the guy chased him, shouting at him, and eventually cornered him against a car and tried to take away his gun. Only then did he shoot the first victim (and I have no issue calling everyone involved in this cluster fuck a ‘victim’). The jury didn’t agree with you that it was ‘overkill’ obviously.

There are other factors as well. Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old kid. The guy chasing him was a late 20’s or early 30’s (I can’t recall right now off the top of my head) adult. And it’s not like Rittenhouse was a big, imposing figure while the first guy shot was a scrawny 100 lb dude either. Then you have the disconnect of a guy chasing after someone who has a gun. That alone should raise eyebrows, especially in the first shooting.

True. But not in this case, although there may be other Federal charges that could be brought. No, I am sure there are some Federal charges that could be found if they really wanted to. That is not saying that they should, mind you.

The reason is actually mostly the same reason that you’re afraid of them - because they think they scare people and look badass. Most mass shooters want to go out with a certain mystique because they want to get noticed and this is their big revenge on the world. Look at Columbine - they used a tec-9 even though it’s a complete piece of shit that isn’t especially deadly and is highly likely to fail, because it’s an unusual, scary looking weapon and sort of a weird status symbol, being referred to in rap songs and such. No one who wasn’t looking to project a certain image would ever actually use that piece of shit, but just like the trench coats, it was part of their attire, part of the image they wanted to create. And so people like you freaking out about something like an AR-15 is part of why they’re chosen to be used.

With Rittenhouse, as he probably wanted to feel like a badass and intimidate people, that may be the same motivation. Or it may not - they’re just super common as explained later.

Virginia tech is still one of the most deadly shootings and it was conducted with regular old handguns. People who are unfamiliar with guns typically vastly overestimate the difference in lethality and capability between guns, and they do so based almost entirely based on how scary and/or how military they look.

With AR-15s specifically, also, they’re super common because they’re related to the standard issue rifles the US military has been using for 60 years now. In the 1930s, it would be super common for someone to use a springfield '03 (early 19th century US army issue) and in the 50s M1 garands (mid century issue). Whatever the US army was issuing to rifleman sort of becomes the default most common rifle used in the US. No one cared that anyone was using “military weapons” then, but once they got a black scary design, suddenly it’s sinister. But being related to the military issue weapons (they aren’t the same, as they’re stripped of the full-auto capabilities) means that lots of people have training and familiarity for them, they’re a common in-production product which means that they’re relatively cheap, the bugs have been worked out, there are lots of accessories made for them, etc. It makes sense that these would be among the more common rifles you’d see for any sort of purpose.

So I’m going to get a little further away from the topic here, but I think it’s interesting and it gives some perspective on gun design. So you might think “well of course the military designs their weapons to be unusually lethal, so they are more dangerous” but that’s not really the case. It may sound silly, but people shooting each other with rifles is actually one of the least common ways that people get injured in battle. In WW2, that number was well under 10% (around 16% for all small arms, but most of that would come from machine guns - which is to say, multi-crewed, often mounted on a tripod machine guns, not any gun that goes bang-bang-bang.)

How many rounds do you think were fired to inflict every hit/injury in battle? Maybe 200? 500? 5000? In WW2, there were about 250,000 rounds fired for every injury/kill inflicted with small arms. In Vietnam, it was about once every 500,000, and in Iraq/Afghanistan it was closer to 1 in 1,000,000. The purpose of small arms in the context of a war is basically to make a lot of noise and plausibly create a threat which keeps the enemy’s head down and not moving while you call in artillery to kill them. As such, the actual lethality of the design is not terribly important, and in fact, as a response, military rounds have become a lot lighter and a lot less lethal - you can carry and shoot more of the lighter ammunition. That they actually function in combat conditions is important for both creating that threat and secondarily if you actually manage to shoot someone, so ruggedness and reliabillity is valued greatly over lethality. Fire rate is important because it creates the scary suppressive effect, not because fully automatic fire rate is more effective/more lethal.

Now, I’m not saying those rifles are poor at committing mass shootings, I’m just saying that the assumptions that people who know nothing about guns make about what makes a “military weapon” and what makes a weapon powerful and what makes them suitable for mass shootings is almost always wrong. And calls to ban “assault weapons” to solve the mass shooting problem are a pretty silly solution that wouldn’t work, especially since when you actually get down to the nitty gritty and try to define what an “assault weapon” is, versus a wholesome looking rifle your grandpa owns, the differences you’ll list will mostly be cosmetic about how scary it looks and have little to do nothing to do with capabilities. The vast majority of all weapons designed for civilian use for a century have been “semi-auto”, so when people use it as some sort of scare word (and they always try to) it just sounds absurd to anyone who knows anything about guns.

Something that surprises me is that the most effective weapon for a mass shooting would almost always be a shotgun, and hardly anyone ever uses those. The only shooting where the unique capabilities of semi-auto rifles even came into play was the Vegas shooting because of the unusual nature of it, the rest would’ve been just as effective or more effective committed with wholesome-looking but equally capable semi-auto rifles, or more effectively, shotguns.

Pardon my ignorance (and I’m certainly not encouraging mass shootings) but wouldn’t shotguns require more frequent (and slower) reloading than weapons you can change a magazine on? Yes, you get a bigger bang per trigger pull but you would have to stop more often, no?

Here’s your huckleberry:

The Kel-Tec KSG-25 bullpup shotgun however flips conventional wisdom on its head, producing a shotgun that can store an astounding forty-one shots of ammunition internally. The KSG-25’s design makes it by far the largest capacity shotgun on the civilian market and a unique addition to a gun owner’s collection.

No, you can ‘top off’ most shotguns at will. Fire one, load one - no magazine to change.

There are a few magazine loaded shotguns.

You’ve made some good points in your post but I don’t see how anyone can say with a straight face that the Army didn’t particularly care about the lethality of the M-16, or that it’s not particularly more lethal than (say) a Marlin .22 semiauto. Eugene Stoner is specifically on record as saying that he designed it that way because the wound ballistics were more lethal than other rifles currently in use.

The Army didn’t pick Stoner’s rifle because the nifty carrying handle and plastic grips made it handy to use in the field. They chose it because it was thought to be a more lethal mass-shooting rifle than the M-14. (And then they ruined it with the wrong propellant and a bunch of other bureaucratic crap, but that’s another story).


I suspect my mental picture of shotguns is way out of date - the old “fire two shells and crack it open” model.

It’s true that at close range the .223 can be devastating, as it will tumble on impact and create a large wound channel. But the 7.62 NATO round from the M-14 has far more penetrating power, and it’s the standard military cartridge for most other western countries.

The barely stable, light bullet is an important factor in the choice of a personal defense weapon in a city, and part of the reason why AR-15’s are so popular: If you shoot an AR-15, the bullet will be destabilized when it hits something and wind up expending its energy quickly. But an M-14 shot could go through a person, then a wall, then kill someone in the next building. it fires a big, heavy, very spin-stabilized bullet.

At longer ranges, the .223 is less effective than the 7.62X51mm round the M-14 fires… That’s why you don’t hunt big game larger than deer with an AR, but a .308 (the civilian version of the 7.62 NATO) is probably the most common big game hunting round.

The Army did not replace the M-14 with the M-16 because the M-16 was deadlier. They replaced it because the M-14 was heavy, the ammunition was heavy, and the military discovered that most soldiers do not typically aim and fire, but ‘spray and pray’. In other words, the chief use of light arms was to provide suppressing fire and slow enemy movements, so the highly accurate, heavy M-14 was overkill.

The M-14 was designed as a replacement for multiple weapons ranging from submachine guns to the heavy Browning Automatic Rifle. Like most jack-of-all trades products, it sort of could do all three roles, but wasn’t particularly good at any of them. It was too heavy and unwieldy to make a good submachine gun, and it was too light to make a good squad automatic weapon like the BAR. It has a big recoil, which makes it hard to use accurately as a hand-held machine gun.

The M-16 is an ‘assault rifle’ designed for auto or selective fire suppressing fire. It is light, fires fast, has low recoil, and soldiers could carry more ammo. That’s why it ultimately won, although soldiers tended to prefer the M-14 at first, as it was much more accurate at a distance and soldiers felt it packed a bigger punch.

This is why they got rid of the M-14. The round was too stable, it would overpenetrate without dispersing much energy in the body. That’s why it was actually less lethal.

No it’s not, unless you’re talking about a creative definition of “western country” or “standard military cartridge.” NATO countries have standardized on 5.56 for the individual infantry rifle. 7.62 is for crew-served weapons, sniper weapons, etc (more on this in a minute).

Because that’s a different mission than an infantry assault. Large game hunting is a sniper mission, with engagements at longer distances, against targets with more body mass. THAT is why we hunt large game with larger cartridges. It’s the same reason the military uses 7.62 and larger for sniper missions.

There are more inaccuracies than I have space to correct here. If you read the Fallows article that I linked earlier, you can educate yourself.

Let your guiding principle be that then the US Military chooses weapons, it does not consciously choose them on the basis of being less lethal or injurious. That’s absurd on its face.

Is it really helpful to talk about 7.62 NATO and then conflate the 5.56 NATO with .223?
There’s a reason you can fire .223 out of a 5.56 but you can’t use 5.56 in a rifle designed for .223.

I agree with some of the points you raise about Sam’s post, but I do actually think logistical concerns were more important than round lethality in going with the 5.56 NATO; I even remember reading about it in some of the defense journals back when I was in the Army comparing how much 5.56 ammo you could transport vs 7.62 due to the size and weight savings.

There was actually a tremendous amount of Pentagon politics played pertaining to the M-16 and the M-14 in the 1960s.

Starting in the early days of Kennedy’s Presidency, some Generals wanted to order AR-15s and adopt them for military use, but there were factions within the military that blocked this, in part based on the claim that having two widely used rifle cartridges in the military would lead to a number of logistical issues. Since the 7.62 was seen as “more robust” because it could be used for a wider range of theoretical scenarios than the 5.56, the argument went there was no good reason to introduce the 5.56 into large scale use in the military as a second rifle cartridge.

There was also some plain old fashioned “entrenchment” that supported the M-14 and 7.62. Elements within the Army frequently referred to the M-16 as a “Matel gun”, it wasn’t the thick, beefy M-14–if you’ve ever touched a period M-14 with wood stock, these had a feel to them not unlike the M-1 Garand which was a gun that you could brain someone with as easily as shoot them.

One issue frequently harped upon is that the M-16 and 5.56 were “underpowered”, and the Army would highlight the superior performance of the M-14 when shooting targets at longer ranges. At significant range this is absolutely true–and is why for a number of years the M-14 was the base platform upon which U.S. sniper rifles were built for the military.

A number of more data-based tests consistently showed that in the actual sort of encounters infantrymen were really likely to be engaged in, the M-16 was the superior weapon and the 5.56 the superior round. There was a small deployment of AR-15s to U.S. Army Special Forces deployed in the early stages of the Vietnam War by ARPA, and the feedback from the field was incredibly enthusiastic. The ability to carry more rounds, the lighter weight of the rifle, and the performance metrics of the rounds in combat were all superior to the M-14.

The Army kept fighting, though, to the point tests were ordered conducted to settle the matter. The Army tests found that only the M-14 was suitable for use. Then the bias and legitimacy of the tests were scrutinized, and found that the Army had deliberately weighted the scales towards the M-14 in testing. Finally more unbiased and high-quality testing was done, the M-14 was shown to be clearly inferior. By 1963 McNamara had enough data that he was able to cease orders of new M-14s and start the process of getting the AR-15 ordered and deployed as the military M-16.

Now, it didn’t help that there were production and quality issues with a lot of the early batches of mass-produced M-16s, some of which were dramatically exaggerated by forces within the Army that were still opposed to the M-16–but not all of it was exaggeration, there were initial issues with scaling the rifle up to very large-scale production and reports of trouble coming in from the field. For a time, this fed into a popular narrative in the Army that the military had given them a fucked, cheap gun, trading expediency and money for the lives of our soldiers. This was really never true, but it served narratives that people wanted to serve at the time. Early performance in the jungles of Vietnam also had some maintenance issues.

One reason for some of the early troubles that hadn’t manifested in the testing and limited deployment phase, is the powder used in the ammunition was different in the mass produced 5.56 and that issued to early testers and early adopting units. All that being said–by 1968 and certainly by 1970 many of the kinks had been worked out, and polls of servicemen found a strong preference for the M-16 over the M-14; but some of the pop cultural “tales” of how terrible the M-16 was basically lived on indefinitely and are sometimes even repeated in modern times.

Also of note–the supposed tumbling action of the 5.56 round is not really why it is so lethal, it is actually specific characteristics of the round that make it more likely than the 7.62 to undergo heavy fragmentation after impact, which causes more complex wound patterns.

The AR-15 “ammo article” talked about this some years ago: Ammo Oracle (ar15.com)

Essentially the M-16 produced more serious wounds in Vietnam than the M-14, and this was often ascribed to tumbling. But the real culprit was bullet fragmentation.

Note that in the broader market there are many variants of 5.56 ammo you can purchase that can have different performance characteristics, and sometimes talk about tumbling, fragmentation and et al. get bogged down in some of these minutiae without proper understanding of variants to the ammunition and what different people are talking about / doing with them.

The U.S. Army at least at one point had 20+ different 5.56 cartridges it purchased for different purposes. There are even civilian enthusiasts who used cartridges designed more for better long-range performance, and which in the hands of well-practiced shooters can be very accurate to over 700 yards range. Most of that is neither here nor there, just note that sometimes when people argue about how the 5.56 “sucks at long distance” or “sucks at penetrating armor” or etc etc, a lot of context is necessary to evaluate these claims and what cartridge is being used.

The logistical advantages of the M-16 are real and not insignificant. Circling back to my purpose in going on this tangent, this is also one reason why this rifle family is really well suited for mass killing. Whether you’re shooting up an enemy resupply point or a classroom full of first graders, it’s very helpful to carry larger amounts of ammo, configured in large-capacity magazines so as to minimize reloading times, so you can kill as much as possible before being shot yourself.

But that’s not the main reason the AR family was chosen. Those reasons are:

  1. Wound ballistics. It was recognized that combat effectiveness is better supported by a round that can reliably create a messy wound wherever it strikes, than a round that might be 100% fatal in the chest or head but a mere inconvenience in an extremity. In other words… stop the soldier from advancing, and require another soldier to evacuate him. It’s 2 for 1 in terms of combat effectiveness.
  2. Automatic fire. It was recognized that soldiers were more motivated to fire their weapons if they were near the squad’s automatic gunner, because they felt their fire was going to be more effective. With the M16, any rifleman could be automatic.
  3. Engagement distance. It was recognized that most engagements take place at a distance of less than 300m, therefore the round only needed enough stability for that distance, hence the mass could be smaller.

This, at least, is how and why Stoner designed the AR as he did, and how he marketed it to the Army. It was a highly effective mass-shooting weapon (until it was ruined by the ball powder debacle, but… different tangent).

Correspondingly, the reason we’re now awash with them is that Stoner’s patents expired in 1997. Not because it’s a good personal defense weapon - frankly it’s garbage for that. They just became very cheap in '97, and everybody wanted to own a badass tacti-cool Black Rifle. Stoner himself never advocated them as personal defense weapons, never owned one himself, never advocated for civilians to own them. His heirs have have stated that he wouldn’t have advocated for civilians to own ARs.

Long story short… it was designed as a massacre weapon and has become a cultural fad among people who know little about tactics or firearms, but enjoy projecting an image of danger.

I think the question is more who made the decision to replace the M-14 with the M-16, and that was Defense Secretary Robert McNamara; who was not a military man, but a former Ford Motor Executive. I think the logistical factors were more important in his mind than the performance metrics–which he likely would only have understood at a very high level, he also was consistently getting conflicting reports from different parts of the military about how effective the M-14 vs AR-15 were, because again, there were elements of the military that were rigging tests (this is widely known these days.)

I think the early advocates for the AR-15 within the military, figures like General LeMay, the guys at ARPA who were putting them in the hands of Special Forces were more inspired by the various performance characteristics you outline. I’m a little less certain that is why McNamara ultimately pulled the trigger. Despite the earlier decision that having “two different rifle cartridges” in the military ought be avoided, that actually was kind of the path they were going down up until 1964, with concurrent orders being placed for large numbers of M-14s and AR-15s (now M-16s.) Part of what I think did the M-14 in at this point was production of the M-14 was more troublesome and complicated. The M-16 while designed by the small firm ArmaLite, was being produced in partnership with Colt, who could easily scale up to the military’s needs. The M-14 on the other hand had primarily been produced at the government owned Springfield Armory, which had limited production capacity, and while some were contracted out to other gun manufacturers (Winchester being one), the design and manufacturing profile of the gun, at least as the tale goes, made it more difficult to easily mass produce.

At the end of the day McNamara was faced with one rifle where by 1964 it was highly unlikely, they could even get as many produced as had been intended, while another was being pushed by a large firearm maker with significant ability to scale. McNamara cancels the M-14 basically but continues to accept fulfilment of the placed orders to that point, which is one reason the gun kept floating around the Armed Forces, before it was eventually retooled as a specialist sniper weapon platform. Part of Stoner’s design was also specifically to have a rifle that used the same cartridge as the rest of NATO–an earlier boondoggle was the intention in the 1960s that NATO synchronize their rifle cartridge, what ended up happening is all of NATO except us adopted the FAL 5.56 and we basically noped out of it and stuck with the M-14 7.62; the M-16 somewhat rectified this asynchronous decision making.

The discussion of the various attributes of different sorts of rifles is off topic. Stop the hijack, please.