AR-15 style rifles were used in the most horrific mass shootings, including Parkland, FL; Newtown, CT; Las Vegas, NV; San Bernardino, CA; Orlando, FL; Sutherland Springs, TX; and Aurora, CO. For many, it would make sense to simply ban this style of assault weapon, but it's not that easy. Because the government is prohibited from keeping records on the number of firearms, sold in the market, estimates vary, but the number of AR-15's is commonly reported to be between 8-15 million.
The NRA calls it "America's most popular rifle". It is a favorite among gun enthusiasts because of its light weight, accuracy, low recoil, rapid fire and modular design (it's like the Lego of guns). An AR-15 is considered to be inexpensive at less than $1,000., and the ammunition is cheap, too. The AR-15, also referred to the modern sporting rifle by gun advocates, is used mostly for competitive or target shooting, while others use it for hunting or self-protection. Overwhelmingly, AR-15 gun owners say that they like the gun because it is reliable and "fun to shoot".
The issue is when it gets into the wrong hands. The problem is not with the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners out there, but with those who want to do harm to innocent people. Mass shooters use this style of assault weapon because it is so completely lethal and guarantees a high body count...just like what it was designed to do; ripping apart flesh and killing a multitude of people in just seconds. The firepower of the rifle inflicts mass destruction to bone, soft tissue and organs much more so than other guns. As Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona, relayed, a handgun wound looks like a "bad knife cut", but the AR-15 wound "looks like a grenade went off in there". (Zhang, S. [2016, June]. What an AR-15 can do to the human body. Retrieved from http://wired.com)
The ammunition leaves the AR-15 at a much higher velocity than other guns. It "bursts" whatever organs, arteries or tissue it hits; causing extreme hemorrhaging, then exits the body leaving a gaping hole the size of an orange. As one Florida trauma surgeon reported after opening-up a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim, "Nothing was left to repair". (See full article at bottom of page.)
The NRA and some others view this as a Second Amendment issue. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Does that mean that the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to possess any kind of arms? The answer is No. Under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968, there are current restrictions for many weapons in our country, including military style (automatic) guns, like M-16's and machine guns; short-barreled rifles and shotguns; as well as other weapons classified under "Destructive Devices", such as bombs, explosive missiles, grenades, poison gas weapons, bazookas and so forth. The AR-15 and similar style semi-automatic assault rifles are not classified under military-style guns or Destructive Devices. This is because the AR-15 style rifle is not considered 'automatic' since the shooter uses his finger to fire.
It's daunting to think how we can effectively reform the sales and distribution of semi-automatic assault rifles with the vast number currently out there, but it is critical that we start the process of reforming our gun laws to keep these guns out of the hands of another would-be mass shooter.
The state of Georgia has:
A minimum age of only 18 to purchase military-style assault rifles, like the AR-15
NO waiting period to purchase firearms
NO permit requirement
NO registration requirement
NO licensing of owner for owning a gun
NO magazine size restrictions
NO background check requirement for guns purchased privately, on-line or from a non-licensed dealer at a gun show (background check is required when purchasing from a licensed dealer)
Our state makes it very easy for anyone to get their hands on the most destructive guns out there. It's time to reform our gun laws and consider ways to curb this type of weapon. At the very least, we need to immediately pass legislation to require FBI (NICS) background checks on all guns, require permits and registration, as well as restrict magazine size.
A bump stock (the part that rests against the shoulder), allows for rapid-fire; sliding the stock with swift motion, "bumping" against the trigger-finger. It was used in the Las Vegas mass shooting. This type of stock does not meet the requirements of an "automatic" weapon under federal law because technically, the shooter's finger is still in place, "pulling" the trigger (even though the bump stock is forcing the rapid trigger-pull). Let's get this dangerous attachment off of the market.
A firearm magazine stores ammunition and feeds it into a gun. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 (now expired), limited magazine capacity to no more than 10 rounds. Today, there are "high-capacity" magazines holding 20-75 rounds (even 100 round magazines can found). A number of states and cities currently restrict magazine capacity to just 10 rounds maximum. By contrast, Georgia has no magazine capacity restrictions.
Mass shooters use high-capacity magazines to kill as many people in as short a time as possible. It's when the gunman stops to reload that he is risking being taken down or his targets running to safety. Precious seconds can make all the difference. It makes sense to change the gun laws to limit the size of firearm magazines.
Hunters, along with recreational and competitive shooters, say that silencers (or suppressors), save their hearing better than earmuffs and earplugs. Although silencers aren't completely silent, they muffle the sound and flash coming from the gun. Once again, the problem is not with the responsible, law-abiding gun owners at the gun range or hunting in the woods, but with a mass shooter whose goal is to stave-off the police and keep their targets off-guard for as long as possible.
The First Responders and shooter's targets need to be able to hear from which direction the shots are coming so that they can react quickly. It makes sense that a mass shooter using a silencer can potentially kill more people. (Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD officer, used silencers during a two day killing-spree in 2013 in southern California. People interviewed in the immediate area of the shootings stated that they did not hear gunshots, making it harder for police to locate Dorner's position.)
Right now, buying a silencer requires a comprehensive background check that takes months, including fingerprinting, a photo and paying a tax. It is possible that most mass shooters have not used silencers because of these lengthy requirements? Current federal legislation being considered, The Hearing Protection Act of 2017, would ease the current restrictions and eliminate the comprehensive background check! Why would we pass a new law to make it easier for mass shooters to rack-up a higher kill rate and harder for police to do their jobs? At the very least, let's be sensible and keep the current restrictions in place!
Sher, H. (2018, February). What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns. The Atlantic.