Atlanta — Karen Butler remembers being scared the first time she picked up an AR-15-style rifle a decade ago.
But as soon as she fired it, she became a fan.
“You know some of these people that are fearful, it’s just because they don’t have knowledge,” she said. “We call it furniture — it’s got all the accessories on it that make it look a little intimidating. But once you shoot it you realize it’s so much fun.”
Butler, of Huntsville, Alabama, started Shoot Like a Girl, an outfit that seeks to introduce and inspire women to participate in shooting sports.
More than 12,000 people were killed last year in the United States by guns, and most of those incidents involved handguns.
A tiny fraction involved an AR-style gun. But of those, most have been high-profile shootings, including the nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, where Omar Mateen used a Sig Sauer MCX model in an attack that killed 49 people.
That shooting has revived calls for banning ARs among critics who believe it is too powerful and too deadly. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has called for reinstating a ban that expired in 2004.
For Dara Humphries, the AR-style firearm isn’t to be feared, scorned or banned. Rather, she says, it’s just a different type of weapon with a different feel.
Humphries, who also goes by the nickname Tactical Barbie, believes the debate over gun measures has focused too much on the firearm and not enough on the person behind the gun.
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“Normal people who purchase guns don’t do this,” she said of mass shooters. “If I want to defend my home and my family then I have the right to do that .”