Is an AR a patrol carbine or an assault rifle?

Words matter. I know that better than most.

They can demonize or praise, and they can create a double standard, which I hate that the most.

How many times have you seen the media refer to an AR as an assault rifle, especially when it’s in civilian hands?

And how my times have you seen stories about local law enforcement agencies purchasing a new patrol carbine?

How many times have you read about armed protesters at a state capitol carrying assault rifles, while capitol police watched the protest while carrying patrol carbines.

It’s the same damn rifle!

An AR, friends, is just that — a rifle — regardless of who’s holding it.

For the past seven years I’ve tried my best to educate my colleagues in the media about firearms.

Some get it. Some don’t. Some don’t care.

Most reporters — the local ones — strive for accuracy.

The national media — especially the cable TV news actors who parachute into communities for a story and then disappear — couldn’t give two shits about accuracy.

They’re more concerned about having the right political spin than having the story straight and accurate.

If a citizen or a cop is carrying a rifle, call it a rifle.

If they’re carrying an AR, call it an AR.

If they’re carrying an AK, call it an AK.

If they’re carrying an HK MP5SD, call it an HK MP5SD — extra credit if you get this one right.

Unfortunately, I’ve met too many journalists who couldn’t articulate the difference between a rifle and a shotgun.

As readers and news consumers, we should not let them get away with double standards and inaccuracies.

Speak up when you see this type of lazy reporting.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. I was saying this same argument beginning a few years ago, when I noticed LEOs and LEAs using the term “PDW” for an AR or MP5 when they hold it, but an “AW” when any private citizen holds it. So in that vein, I’ve always referred to my own items as PDWs ever since.

  2. Barry Hirsh on

    Yeah, but… will it do any good? Well, someday MAYBE you’ll win the lotto. Don’t hold your breath in either case.

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