In the aftermath of a recent Florida self-defense shooting, female gun owners argued that the AR-15 provides specific advantages to women for home defense, vehemently rejecting the views of gun-control activists who insist the firearm is unnecessary.
Speaking with the Washington Free Beacon on Friday, five female firearm owners and advocates said the AR-15 platform offers several features that are ideal for women specifically. Robyn M. Sandoval, executive director of A Girl & A Gun Women's Shooting League, said the rifle is both more effective and safer for female shooters.
"ARs are an excellent choice for women for home defense," Sandoval told the Free Beacon. "The platform is relatively lightweight and easy to hold and customize so that the firearm fits her body correctly. Having a rifle that is the right size for the shooter makes it more comfortable to shoot and therefore more accurate and safer."
Many Democratic politicians, including 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden, have long decried the AR-15 as both dangerous and an impractical or unnecessary firearm for civilians, especially women. But the female firearm owners the Free Beacon spoke to rejected the logic of these pro-gun-control men.
"AR-15s are perfect for women," Mary Chastain, a writer and gun owner, said. "Despite the size, they are lightweight and have hardly any kickback. This allows us to aim well and shoot the target where we want to."
Dana Loesch, a nationally syndicated radio host and gun-rights activist who has faced threats to her safety throughout her career, said she picks an AR-15 when it comes to home defense.
"I was always taught in training that your pistol is what you use to get to your rifle, and the AR-15 is what I choose to use," Loesch told the Free Beacon.
The customizability of the rifle is a big selling point for women, competitive shooter and trainer Julie Golob said.
"The AR platform can be a useful and effective option for women when it comes to defending themselves and their property," she told the Free Beacon. "Starting with the fact that the length of pull can be adjusted easily, unlike rifles with fixed stocks, the AR can quickly become custom fit to its user. The pistol grip, combined with quick access to the safety and other controls, makes this platform one a woman can confidently control."
"I can choose my trigger, hand guard, barrel length, grip," Dianna Muller, a former police officer and head of the gun-rights group DC Project, added. "I can put a light, laser, etc. I call it the Mr. Potato Head for the gun connoisseur!"
The testimony of these women contradicts Biden, who has repeatedly claimed that AR-15s are hard to use and ineffective compared with shotguns. In 2013, he said he had advised his own wife to use a double-barrel shotgun instead of an AR-15.
"I said, ‘Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house,'" Biden said in an interview with Parents Magazine. "You don't need an AR-15—it's harder to aim. It's harder to use, and in fact you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun! Buy a shotgun!"
Late last month, a heavily pregnant mother did exactly what Biden warned against to defend her family. She used an AR-15 to fend off two armed men who were attacking her husband and daughter in their Florida home.
The women who spoke with the Free Beacon disagreed with Biden's assertions that AR-15s are not necessary. Loesch said she was competent with shotguns, but has found the AR-15 is simply a better option.
"The 12 gauge is an excellent home defense gun, too, but the collateral consideration does affect my decision there (frangible ammo is an option)," Loesch told the Free Beacon. "AR-15s are easy to shoulder, lightweight, the low recoil makes it easier to maintain target acquisition, and the ergonomics are great. I can access everything without compromising a defensive stance. I also have more rounds with an AR-15."
Chastain also said that she finds the AR-15 easier than many other firearms to use.
"You can use it with one hand, which helps me," she said. "My entire left side is handicapped, caused by brain trauma at birth. There are many guns I cannot use. The AR is perfect because I can use the functions with only my right hand. The lightness of the gun makes it easy for my handicapped left arm and hand to hold it."
The women said the availability of magazines with more ammunition capacity than the double-barrel shotguns Biden highlighted—which hold only two rounds—is a significant advantage of the AR platform, as is the variety of ammunition types.
"Standard capacity magazines create a reduced chance to have to fumble to exchange mags under stress," Golob said.
"The ballistics of defensive ammunition prevent over-penetration, and standard-capacity magazines hold 30 rounds, which is more than a shotgun or pistol," Sandoval said.
The women who spoke to the Free Beacon stressed that, while they believe the AR-15 provides them certain advantages over other guns, women are more than able to become skilled with shotguns, handguns, or any other firearm.
"There are pros and cons to any self-defense tool," Golob said. "Practice on the range and training gun-handling skills, whether it’s a rifle, pistol, or shotgun, is key. I feel that the best home defense option for a woman is the one she is most comfortable with and that she can produce the best results."
Sandoval encouraged women to "train extensively on any firearm they choose to use to protect their families" but also noted AR-15 classes are one of the most commonly available—one of its primary advantages in her opinion.
Some of the women also view the imposing nature and reputation of the AR-15 as a bonus feature.
"I also like the fact that they're scary looking," Chastain said. "A man breaks into my house, I don't mind using a scary looking weapon to defend myself."
"Ultimately, I want the meanest, most manageable thing I can get," Loesch said.