FACT CHECK: Does An AR-15 Shoot 10 Bullets A Second?
Harvard University’s Professor of Constitutional Law Laurence H. Tribe claims that the semi-automatic AR-15 can fire “over 10 rounds per second.”
According to the Bushmaster AR-15 manual, the firearm has a maximum effective rate of 45 rounds per minute — a far cry from the number touted by Tribe. Competitive shooters can fire at a maximum of three shots per second.
Tribe made the claim Saturday on Twitter amid the raging debate over gun control. Tribe, who appeared to express his disdain for the National Rifle Association, correctly assessed that the AR-15 is a “semi-automatic rifle,” adding that its bullets fly at over 2,000 miles per hour, which is somewhat confusing as bullet velocity is typically measured by feet per second.
“It easily fires over 10 rounds PER SECOND,” stated Tribe confidently.
“Its [sic] only purpose is to rip human beings apart and leave them dead. Nobody needs it for defense or for sport,” added Tribe. “It should be BANNED.”
Many commenters were quick to point out that it was impossible to draw a trigger back 10 times a second, a claim that Tribe doubled down on and then attempted to immediately brush aside.
“I researched it; didn’t draw the 10ps rate from thin air,” wrote Tribe. “But even at 4ps, the devastation is staggering. Don’t get hung up on the immaterial details.”
Semi-automatic weapons are single-fire guns, meaning that unlike the AR-15’s military counterpart, the M-16, the trigger can’t be pulled down to fire a continuous stream of bullets emptying the magazine, or even a three-round burst.
Tribe may have either drawn his numbers from thin air, or confused the weapon’s theoretical cycling rate for its effective firing rate. Either way, he’s wrong.
Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.