On Monday morning, Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old Navy veteran, opened fire in the Washington Navy Yard, killing at least 13 people. His weapons was initially reported to be, likely, the AR-15—although authorities are saying now they’re less certain about that. The AR-15, CNN reports, is the most popular rifle is reportedly the most popular rifle in America and also seems to be the favorite of some recent mass-murderers.
While sources are still trying to confirm whether Alexis used the AR-15 in yesterday’s killings or only rented one but returned it shortly before his rampage, CNN highlights a few of the headlines AR-15s have made in the recent past:
- Sandy Hook, 2012: Adam Lanza used an AR-15 to kill 26 people, including children, at Sandy Hook elementary school
- Aurora, 2012: James Holmes used an AR-15 plus several other weapons to kill 12 people and wound 50 in
- Portland, 2012: Jacob Tyler Roberts killed two people at a mall with a stolen AR-15
- Santa Monica: John Zawahri built his own AR-15-like rifle, which he used to killed five people
“It’s the preferred mass shooter’s weapon of choice,” Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford told CNN. “I don’t see a logical reason why any civilian needs to have one of these killing machines.”
The magazine-fed AR-15 was first developed by the U.S. Army as an assault rifle in 1958, but financial problems caused the model to soon be sold to Colt, which created a civilian, semi-automatic version released in 1963. Other companies caught on to the gun’s popularity for hunting, target practice and personal protection, and now make various versions that are sold under different names. Currently, the U.S. issues no federal restrictions on purchasing AR-15s. As Mother Jones points out, of the 67 mass shootings in the U.S. over the past three decades, more than three-quarters of the 143 guns used to harm and kill innocent bystanders were obtained legally.
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