AR-15 Style Rifles: The Most Common Weapons Used In US Mass Shootings

The deadliest mass shootings in the country had one thing in common: AR-15 style assault rifles. So why are these weapons of war still accessible to civilians?

The deadliest mass shootings in the United States – be it, the massacre at an Orlando night club, the carnage at a Las Vegas concert, the slaughter inside a Texas church or bloodshed at a high school in Florida – all had one thing in common: they were committed by domestic terrorists using AR-15 style rifles.

According to the National Rifle Association (NRA), the weapon is one of the most famous rifles in the country and Americans own more than 8 million of them. In fact, the organization believes it is popular because of its ease of use and versatility, factors like the weapon being “customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate,” also play a role. People who own the weapon can also customize it according to their need. They can mix and match elements such as barrels, grips and stocks.

Just recently, 19-year-old Nikolaus Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where he had once been expelled for disciplinary reasons, and opened fire with an assault rifle. He killed 17 people and injured more than a dozen before he was arrested by police.

It was the 40th mass shooting to have occurred this year and is being ranked among the deadliest mass shootings in the recent U.S. history.

Last year, when gunman Devin Patrick Kelley fatally shot 26 people and injured another 20 people when he opened fire at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, investigation into the incident revealed he had used a Ruger AR-556, which is a variant of the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, in the deadly rampage.

When 64-year-old Stephen Paddock killed 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas, police found a trove of firearms in his hotel room, with calibers ranging from .308 (used in hunting rifles) to .223 (used in AR-15 semi-automatic rifles).

Different versions of the AR-15 rifles were also used in the mass shootings such as Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, 2012 Aurora shooting and San Bernardino shooting.

Tragically, these rifles have a relatively low price tag. According to the FBI, these rifles were used in 2.4 percent of homicides. Yet, these weapons of war are still accessible to civilians.

According to Dean Hazen, owner of The Gun Experts in Mahomet, Ill., and a master firearms instructor, the real reason these shooters are using AR-15 is due to a "copy-cat" mentality. It is not based on any feature of the rifle but just simply because they copy former shooters.

“It’s really just a perception thing. There are rifles that are more powerful and more dangerous than that, but they're not being used. Thank God they don't know any better because if they did they would use much more effective weapons,” he said.









Thumbnail Credits : Reuters, Rick Wilking

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