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Ret. Major General explains the difference between an AR-15 and the military's weapons of war

Major General Paul Eaton was the commander in charge of training Iraqi troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He knows his weapons.

paul eaton, army, guns, gun violence

Retired Major General Paul Eaton shared his thoughts on whether the AR-15 is a "weapon of war."

A common criticism gun rights activists levy toward gun legislation advocates is that many people who push for stricter gun laws don’t know a lot about guns themselves. That’s not wholly accurate—there are plenty of gun enthusiasts who support reasonable gun laws—but it’s true that many people who are horrified by our nation’s gun culture are not well-versed on the specifications of our nation’s 393 million guns.

Not every American is an active part of American “gun culture." Some of us have never shot a firearm, for fun or otherwise. Some of us really are ignorant about guns themselves.


That can’t be said for anyone in the military, however. And it definitely can’t be said for a former Major General of the U.S. Army.


That’s why an explanation of the difference between an AR-15 and military-style firearms from retired Major General Paul Eaton has gone viral. Major General Eaton was the commander in charge of training Iraqi soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about when it comes to weaponry.

He wrote:

“As the former Commanding General of the Infantry Center at Fort Benning and Chief of Infantry, I know a bit about weapons. Let me state unequivocally — For all intents and purposes, the AR-15 and rifles like it are weapons of war. A thread:

Those opposed to assault weapon bans continue to play games with AR-15 semantics, pretending there’s some meaningful differences between it and the M4 carbine that the military carries. There really aren’t.

The military began a transition from the M16 to the M4, an improved M16, some years ago. The AR-15 is essentially the civilian version of the M16. The M4 is really close to the M16, and the AR-15.

So what’s the difference between the military’s M4 and the original AR-15? Barrel length and the ability to shoot three round bursts. M4s can shoot in three round bursts. AR-15s can only shoot a single shot.

But even now, you can buy AR-15s in variable barrel lengths with Weaver or Picatinny rails for better sights and aiming assists like lasers. Like the military, but w/o the bayonet.

But our troops usually use single shot, not burst fire. You’re able to fire a much more accurate (deadly) shot, that way. Note: you can buy our Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight on Amazon. So troops usually select the same fire option available on AR-15.

That is why the AR-15 is ACCURATELY CALLED a ‘weapon of war.’ It is a very deadly weapon with the same basic functionality that our troops use to kill the enemy. Don’t take the bait when anti-gun-safety folks argue about it. They know it’s true. Now you do too."

Eaton is not the only former military leader who has spoken out in support of gun legislation. In 2019, a group of 13 influential retired military leaders wrote a letter to Congress, pushing it to pass the Bipartisan Background Check Act.

"Each of us has, at some point in our lives, made the choice to risk our lives for our fellow citizens and place ourselves in harm’s way," they wrote. "We were trained, we were coached, and we were prepared for the dangers that we chose to face. This is not the case for most Americans, yet they continue to face danger on the sidewalk, in their homes, at school, and at work. It is in the same spirit that led us to serve in the armed forces that we ask you, our elected leaders, to help protect the American people from gun violence here at home. We urge you to support this legislation."

Police leaders have also voiced strong support for gun legislation, which makes sense considering how much harder and more dangerous our free-for-all gun culture makes their jobs. The International Association of Chiefs of Police, the largest professional association of police leaders in the world, has a position paper that outlines the gun safety laws it supports, including firearm offender registration, waiting periods, closing the gun show loophole, banning semiautomatic assault weapons, armor-piercing ammunition, bulletproof body armor and more. The IACP states that these are “common sense policies that would assist in reducing gun violence, while upholding the second amendment.”

Yep, the largest police leader association supports banning semiautomatic assault weapons like the AR-15. Here’s what it has to say about that:

“First passed in 1994, the assault weapons ban required domestic gun manufacturers to stop production of semi-automatic assault weapons and ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds except for military or police use. While the ban was in place, it was remarkably effective in reducing the number of crimes involving assault weapons. In the period of the ban, (1994-2004) the proportion of assault weapons traced to crimes fell by a dramatic 66 percent.”

If those who oppose gun legislation don’t want to listen to people who don’t know enough about guns to speak authoritatively on them, that's fine. Perhaps they should listen to these military and police leaders who not only know guns inside and out, but who also have the firsthand experience on both sides of the barrel to speak authoritatively on what can help minimize America’s gun violence.


This article originally appeared on 06.04.22

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As a participant in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.

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Going to the gym can be a daunting prospect for a lot of people. It shouldn't be—the whole point of going to the gym is to exercise, which is something that should universally be applauded—but sometimes it can feel like there's pressure to be at a certain fitness level or have a certain physique before stepping foot in the door.

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In a video made from her car just after leaving the gym, Steph explained that a "hardcore" gym-goer who is "super tough" and covered in tattoos had came up to talk to her. Her initial response was to be afraid of what he was going to say to her, based on previous experience. She shared in the video how hard it's been to stay steady with her workouts, especially with medications she's on making her body hold onto weight, but she's been working hard to be consistent. She steeled herself for whatever he might say.

She didn't expect it to be this: "I've seen you in here every week, almost every day. I've seen you in here every week—and I'm proud of you." Nor did she expect that such simple words of encouragement could make such a huge impact.

Watch her tell the story:

@steph5468

#gymprogress #workputjourney #keepgoing #healingjourney

People had a lot to say about the interchange and Steph's emotional response to it.

"People do not realize, how one person can change everything," wrote one commenter.

"Girl you are CRUSHING IT," wrote another. "That man you encountered is what real men do. Encourage. Support. Be human! It isn’t hard! ❤️"

"No one knows your story, your struggles. You're doing the dang thing and that takes courage and strength. You. Keep. Going. I'm proud of you too!" shared another.

More and more words of encouragement flooded Steph's comment section, and people on Upworthy's Instagram page weighed in as well.

"I'm a fitness coach and this made me cry 😢 just having someone say they are proud of you can move mountains for so many of us who didn’t/ don’t get the praise growing up," wrote one person.

"Who knows? He may be going through something too and saw a determined, consistent, fellow traveler," wrote another. "You share your Truth so powerfully. You may not know how many people will see this and be encouraged by your honesty. I’m in awe that you show up for YOURSELF every day. And as for the rude and ill-mannered? Well they struggle too—just to be decent kind human beings. Some people have not been shown Empathy and therefore do not know how to use that muscle. You are beautiful, smart, articulate, wise and a woman who knows where she’s headed. Keep walking, head up knowing there are many many more who do empathize, who see you and are on your side❤️"

"It’s amazing to think about how this man’s single act of kindness, spread through you to affect us all in a positive way," shared another. "This made all of our days, and I’m crying tears of joy while I write this. Please thank him from all of us the next time you see him, if you’re comfortable with that. And thank you for sharing! ❤️"

Indeed, thanks to both Steph and the hardcore, tattooed gym bro for being wonderful examples for us all. We never know what a small act of kindness or a few words of encouragement will do to make someone's life significantly better, but it's always worth trying.


This article originally appeared on 9.5.23

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