If you had to pick the single most controversial issue in America the past few months, the AR would no doubt be at the top of that list. And if you had to characterize the media's position on the subject, it would without hesitation be unfavorable.
Given those facts, it was surprising when CNN ran an exclusive online video on March 22 with a semi-positive focus on the use of ARs for hog hunting in agrarian Georgia. The segment ran on Anderson Cooper 360 and featured interviews with Jim Pritchard, a Georgia farmer, and Hal Shouse, owner operator of hogSWAT, a local hog hunting outfitter that utilizes ARs and night vision optics.
As the segment points out, feral hogs number around 5 million in the U.S. and do an estimated $1.5 billion in damage each year. Farmers encourage outfitters like Shouse to host hunters on their property to help alleviate crop damage done by the rapidly multiplying hordes of wild hogs. With nightly hog hunting excursions for paying customers, Shouse said the use of ARs and standard 30-round magazines are a practically useful tool.
Victor Blackwell, the host of the segment, asked Shouse why the AR is at the center of such a heated issue: "When you say AR and 30-round magazine, that's a political hot button."
"Sure it is, because people have decided to make it [an issue]," Shouse explained. "Tragedies happen, but the weapon didn't create these tragedies. Sick individuals used this weapon, this tool, and they did something destructive with it, something ugly. That's all you can say about it."
Blackwell also asked, "Who needs this weapon outside of the military or someone who wants to kill someone else?"
"You know 'need' is a big word. You don't need a lot of things that you choose to use because they make your job easier. I could do this with a single shot weapon, sure, I just wouldn't be nearly as effective. But I don't want to. I'm a legal, responsible gun owner, I've evaluated all the different weapons out there and I decided this weapon is what makes sense for me and my company," Shouse said.