Photo Credit: Mitch Barrie (CC-By-SA 2.0)

Amy Swearer, a senior legal policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, made an excellent argument for why Americans, like her mother, need to have access to semi-automatic rifles like AR-15s for defense.

She spoke during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on assault weapons on Wednesday.

“Ironically the rifle deemed an assault weapon by many in this room was used defensively to protect innocent people against assault while the perpetrators used a non-assault weapon offensively to commit actual assault,” Swearer told the members of the House Judiciary Committee.

“Importantly some of the most famous examples of the defensive use of assault weapons by civilians come from scenarios where the government has either been unable or unwilling to defend entire communities from large-scale civil unrest.

“During the 1992 L.A. riots, for example, law enforcement was nowhere to be found as hundreds of looters ransacked Korea Town. Ordinary store owners like Richard Rhee and his employees took it upon themselves to defend their livelihoods from lawlessness using, in many cases, semi-automatic rifles. Similar stories emerged from the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014,” she noted.

Swearer then pivoted to her mother’s experience with an AR-15, and in doing so hit the nail on the head as to why these weapons are so popular.

“There are some here today who still don’t genuinely understand why or how anyone would need such scary looking rifles for purposes other than mass murder. And so I have permission from my mother to explain it to you by partially embarrassing her,” she said.

“My mother did not grow up with firearms and they will never be the favorite thing in the world. In fact, she never handled a firearm until I took her to the range for the first time several years ago. Now I love my mother, but like every other novice with a handgun, she was quite bad. I mean she struggled to hit a stationary target from six yards out under ideal conditions. And then she picked up an AR-15, and I watched my mother put a fist-size grouping of lead in the center mass of a target from 20 yards out.

“That is why law-abiding citizens buy millions of these firearms. When accuracy and stopping power matter, they are simply better,” Swearer explained.

“Americans use firearms to defend themselves between 500,000-2,000,000 times every year. God forbid my mother is ever faced with a scenario where she has to stop a threat to her life, but if she is, I hope politicians protected by professional armed security didn’t strip her of the right to use the firearm she can handle the most competently. Frankly, I hope she has in her hands the scariest-looking assault weapon she can find so that we both can be confident in her ability to end the threat,” Swearer concluded.

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