Note to the Media

Many of you are reporting about a man in Phoenix who was openly carrying a rifle near a venue where President Obama was speaking.
Please note that the firearm carried was an AR-15 variant (it’s not possible to know the exact details without examining the specific rifle). It was not an M-16. It’s also not an “assault rifle” nor an “assault weapon”.
The “AR” part of the name comes from the original name of the rifle, the “Armalite model 15” — “Armalite” was the manufacturer.
While certain states, such as California and Massachusetts may define AR-15 variants as “assault weapons” and regulate their possession, such classifications have no legal meaning or standing outside of those states.
In Arizona, as well as most other states, AR-15 variants are considered to be ordinary, semi-automatic rifles. Indeed, they’re some of the most popular rifles owned by Americans due to their accuracy, ease of customization (a large aftermarket exists to supply a vast variety of parts and accessories), and the fact that the similar-looking M-16 is used by the military of the US and many other foreign nations.
It would be appropriate to refer to an AR-15 rifle in the media as “a rifle” if one doesn’t wish to describe the details (e.g. “a semi-automatic rifle”). As the AR-15 is neither an “assault rifle” nor an “assault weapon”, it is inappropriate to describe it as such.
As an analogy, my Toyota Camry can be referred to as an “automobile”, “car”, “vehicle”, “sedan”, and so on. It would be inappropriate to refer to it as a “sports car”, a “high-powered racing car”, “truck”, etc. even though it may have superficial similarities (e.g. four wheels, engine, etc.) to such vehicles.
Using such terminology reflects poorly on your reputation to provide accurate, truthful, and unbiased news.
I would again like to repeat my previous offer to the media: feel free to contact me with questions regarding firearms and I will, at no cost, provide accurate, reliable, and verifiable information relating to firearms, firearm-related terminology, and so forth. In the event that I am personally unable to do so I will, to the best of my ability, direct you to others who can.

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