DuggarWhere firearms are involved, one can always count on the media to not only get technical details wrong, but to cry “wolf” at the appearance of a mouse. Such is the case with this tale of woe. The Daily Mail–only one source blanketing the Internet with this artificial tale of outrage–has the story: 

Jessa Duggar, the 21-year-old star of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting, has sparked a social media storm after she was snapped posing boldly with a pink-trimmed high-capacity semi-automatic assault rifle.

The photo was posted on Facebook by Jessa’s boyfriend, 19-year-old Ben Seewald; a staunch Christian conservative who is highly vocal about his support for guns and his commendation of abortion.

‘My AWESOME girlfriend. #DontmesswithJessa’, reads the caption.

The photo seems to have been taken in a gun store, and has attracted a predictable wash of debate, with users taking to the comments section to vent their views.

‘Isn’t that the kind of guns they give soldiers who are at war? No wars going on in North America. People who think it’s okay to keep weapons like this in their homes scare me’, wrote one user.

‘Brain washed fools. I’m glad she knows how to defend herself…Btw, if you wait for the police to defend you, you will die waiting. I on the other hand will lock and load’, wrote another.

One commenter posed the frank question: ‘Wow, would Jesus carry that weapon?’

To which another responded with a specific reference to the Bible: ‘Jesus would carry that, were he walking among us today. He exhorts his followers to buy the best personal defense weapon of the day, the sword, even if they had to sell their only cloak to get one. Luke 22:36.’

As one also might expect, the Daily Mail also takes Seewald and Duggar to task for being–gasp!–conservative Christians and spends a great deal of text on their quaint dating practices. By all means, take the link and see what makes the news these days, but back to the original topic…

The rifle Duggar is holding, quite obviously in a gun shop, is not an “assault weapon,” or even an “assault rifle.” There is no such thing as an “assault weapon,” which is an invention of anti-gun groups and the media and is best understood to be any firearm they find scary or which they think they can convince the public to find scary, perhaps by tricking them to think it’s fully automatic. There is such a thing as an “assault rifle,” the military M4 being a prime example, but assault rifles require two characteristics not present here: the ability to fire fully automatically, and an intermediate-sized rifle cartridge. Oh yes, the military tends not to issue pink-accented (or purple) firearms.

S&W M&P 22-15

S&W M&P15-22

It’s actually a Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 rifle, which is not fully-automatic, and which fires only the diminutive .22LR cartridge. The version above, from the current S&W catalog, differs only in color and having a flash suppressor (Duggar’s rifle also appears to sport an electronic sight). While both rifles are designed to resemble the AR-15 (M4) family in configuration, size and general function, any commonality with military rifles ends there.

The photo below illustrates the reality of cartridges.  The .308 is a full sized battle rifle cartridge.  The .223 is an intermediate sized rifle cartridge of the general configuration used in true military assault rifles.  The .22LR, arguably the most common cartridge available, is obviously not an intermediate rifle cartridge.

L to R: .22LR, 9mm, .223, .308

L to R: .22LR, 9mm, .223, .308

I’ll leave it to you, gentle readers, to determine just how “bold” Duggars was to hold a common .22LR rifle, in, of all places, a gun store. By the way, for those wanting to discover just how much of an assault rifle the 22-15 is not, my review (from March, 2012) of the .22LR “assault weapon” may be found here. 

As to the “high capacity magazine,” standard 22-15 magazines hold a maximum of 25 cartridges, which is actually rather a middling amount of ammunition. Such magazines are available for a great many other .22 rifles, and even many .22 rifles with an under-barrel tube magazine hold 13 or so cartridges. Ten-round magazines, useful for sighting in the rifle from a bench, are also available.

But I suppose when minor celebrity, guns, a pretty girl, and Christianity are involved, it’s too much for the Media to resist, particularly when a pretty girl can draw in the rubes to see guns and Christianity disparaged.