Fox's Geraldo Rivera Slammed for Calling AR-15s 'Automatic Rifles'

Longtime journalist and Fox News co-host Geraldo Rivera received a wave of criticism on Twitter Tuesday after incorrectly identifying the AR-15 as an "automatic rifle."

In an exchange on the opinion roundtable show, "The Five," Rivera discussed President Joe Biden's pledge to ban assault rifles with his fellow co-hosts.

"I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, there is no legitimate reason ... to have an AR-15," Rivera tells the table.

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld pushed back on Rivera's opinion, however, and asked the former correspondent, "What does 'AR' stand for?"

"It is an automatic rifle," Rivera answered, to which Gutfeld said, "That's not what it is."

"All I know is AR-15s have no place in American society other than in sports clubs," Rivera concluded, adding that he "agreed" with Biden's policy.

Rivera Criticised for Incorrectly Identifying AR-15 Weapons
Fox News co-host Geraldo Rivera visits the Dan Abrams show at SiriusXM Studios on November 1, 2018, in New York City. In the inset, a worker inspects an AR-15 weapon at Davidson Defense in Orem, Utah, on March 20, 2020. On Tuesday, Rivera incorrectly identified an AR-15 as an "assault rifle." Roy Rochlin/Getty; George Frey/AFP via Getty

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the "AR" in the name AR-15 stands for ArmaLite—the company that developed the semiautomatic weapon in the 1950s.

The NSSF added that while AR-15s are often incorrectly categorized as assault rifles, an assault rifle is a fully automatic weapon, while the AR-15 "fires just one bullet with each pull of the trigger."

A clip of the exchange between Rivera and Gutfeld was posted on Twitter by the Daily Caller Tuesday evening, which added in the caption of the video, "Those most passionate about 'gun control' tend to know the least about guns."

The National Association for Guns Rights also posted about Rivera's incorrect statement, adding, "Thank you @greggutfeld for bringing Geraldo's massively incorrect talking point to his attention."

Former Tennessee congressional candidate Robby Starbuck also reposted a clip from "The Five" Tuesday, mocking Rivera by writing, "He's as sharp as we all suspected he was."

Brigitte Gabriel, founder of the anti-Muslim group ACT for America, also tweeted that Rivera's misstep was "embarrassing."

"Why does Fox News continue to employ him?" she added.

Rivera defended his opinion on Twitter Tuesday evening, however, acknowledging that he "Heard the Daily Caller and fellow travelers are ranting about my incorrect definition on-air of 'AR' as in AR-15."

"Whatever," read the tweet. "Point is, there is no place (other than sporting clubs and similar skilled settings) for assault rifles. They're substitute appendages."

Biden has made several promises to ban military-style rifles during his time in office. The guns became federally legal in 2004 under President George W. Bush's administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. A federal ban on such weapons—which include AR-15s—was enacted in 1993 by Democratic President Bill Clinton.

According to a report from NPR in May 2022, the shooter that killed 19 students and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that same month used an AR-15-style rifle.

Other mass shootings in the U.S. where an AR-15-style rifle was used include Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, Pulse nightclub in 2016 and the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, read the report.

Newsweek has reached out to Rivera for comment.