Orlando Shooter Used AR-15 Assault Rifle, & This Has Happened Before
In the wake of the deadly mass shooting at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Sunday morning, Orlando Police Chief John Mina said the Orlando shooter used "AR-15-type assault rifle" when massacring over 50 people, The New York Times reported. As Slate noted in an introduction to an older piece they re-ran Sunday, the AR-15 is the same weapon used at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, a shooting that murdered 20 children and 6 adults. The same type of automatic rifle was used in the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre shooting in 2012 that killed 12 people and, as The Trace noted, in the shooting in San Bernardino, California in December that killed 14. All of which left many members of the public confused Sunday about why these weapons are legal and angry that they have not been outlawed.
(Update: The FBI has updated the death toll to 49 victims. The shooter was also killed.)
In the past, gun advocates have argued that AR-15s are designed for hunting, target shooting, and home- and self-defense. In 2013, then NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre legal semi-automatic guns, "They are among the most popular guns made for hunting, target shooting and self-defense." But in the wake of the Pulse shooting, that argument isn't carrying much sway with a mourning and terrified public.
In the aftermath many users expressed outrage that AR-15 type weapons can be lawfully obtained. (Justin Peters, the author of the Slate article, clarified that authorities often refer to these weapons as "AR-15-type" because the AR-15 is the model name of a Colt product.)
Here's the thing; the AR-15 did its job. It's designed to kill scores of people in a second. There is no reason for a civilian to have one.— (((quinn cummings))) (@quinncy) June 12, 2016
It’s legal to buy an AR-15 assault rifle. It’s illegal for a gay man to donate blood to victims of the massacre. The world makes no sense.— John Barcus (@johnrtworld) June 12, 2016
There's going to come a point where we have to admit to ourselves that the only things being hunted down with AR-15's are humans.— Libby Hill (@midwestspitfire) June 12, 2016
The Orlando shooter had an AR-15 assault rifle.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 12, 2016
The same type of weapon used in San Bernardino and Sandy Hook.
What's the reasoning behind the legality of an AR-15? Is it required for sport? Seriously. Why is this type of weapon necessary?— Eric Slater (@ericsslater) June 12, 2016
How does a guy with an AR15 get into the club? This is crazy #PrayForFlorida— Martin (@damnmartin) June 12, 2016
Ban the AR-15.— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 12, 2016
No person should be able to buy an assault rifle. Quit lying about it being anything other than a lethal killing machine.
Since the Orlando mass shooting is the deadliest in U.S. history, it's possible that Congress will again examine whether semi-automatic assault weapons should be legal. What is unclear is whether that would actually lead to a ban, given the NRA's powerful influence in Washington. After all, 20 children were killed at Sandy Hook, and AR-15s are as readily accessible as ever.