The type of gun used to kill 21 people, including 19 children, at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school on Tuesday was also used for 11 other mass shootings since 2012, according to USA Today.
The gun is an AR-15 style rifle, which is a semiautomatic, or “self-loading,” assault rifle. The weapon was dubbed as “America’s rifle” by the NRA, which is holding its annual convention about four hours from Uvalde in Houston on Friday and Saturday.
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The Uvalde shooter legally purchased two AR-15 rifles soon after turning 18 on May 17 and May 20 from a local federal firearms licensee.
According to a briefing by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday, one of the guns was in his car at the scene; the other was with his body inside the school, where officials have determined his grandmother worked until 2020. She also was shot and injured before authorities say the gunman went to the campus.
AR-15s have been the weapon of choice for mass shooters. Here’s what we know about them.
An AR-15 was used in the Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017
Five years ago this November, a gunman used an AR-15 to kill 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
The Sutherland Springs shooting is the deadliest mass shooting in Texas history.
When was the AR-15 rifle put in production?
The AR-15 rifle was first developed in the 1950s. By the 1960s variations of the gun were being produced by manufactures like Colt’s Manufacturing Company.
In 1994, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act banned the weapon in the U.S., but the act was not extended in 2004.
AR-15 rifles can sell for $400 to $2,000.
AR-15 has been used in 11 mass shootings since 2012
According to USA Today, the AR-15 rifle, or variants of the AR-15 rifle, has been used in 11 mass shootings since 2012. Here’s the list:
- March 10: Boulder, Colorado (King Soopers grocery store)
- June 12, 2016: Orlando, Florida (Pulse nightclub)
- Feb. 14, 2018: Parkland, Florida (Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School)
- July 20, 2012: Aurora, Colorado (Century 16 movie theater)
- Dec. 14, 2012: Sandy Hook Elementary School (Newtown, Connecticut)
- April 22, 2018: Waffle House (Nashville, Tennessee)
- Dec. 2, 2015: San Bernadino, California (holiday office party at Inland Regional Center)
- Aug. 31, 2019: Midland/Odessa (West Texas cities)
- Apr. 27, 2019: Poway synagogue (near San Diego)
- Nov. 5, 2017: Sutherland Springs (rural Texas church service)
- Oct. 27, 2018: Tree of Life Synagogue (Pittsburgh)
Is an AR-15 a machine gun? What is a bump stock?
The AR-15 rifle is not a machine gun. But it can be modified to function like a machine gun when a “bump stock” is used.
In October 2017, a Las Vegas gunman used 23 different weapons to murder 58 people. Of the 23 guns, several AR-15 rifles were found in his hotel room with a bump stock attached.
Is there a bump stock ban?
Following the Las Vegas shooting, then-president Donald Trump banned bump stocks.
In February 2018, Trump instructed the attorney general to regulate bump stocks’ use, and 10 months later, Justice Department officials issued the ban, giving owners 90 days to either turn bump stocks over to federal agents or melt, shred or crush them.
In March 2020, the Supreme Court decided not to hear a case that challenged the ban.
Is there legislation to ban the AR-15? Yes. It’s H.R. 1808
California banned assault weapons in 1989, but a court ruling last summer overruled that law.
U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez wrote of the AR-15 rifle:
“Like the Swiss Army knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle.”
According to the Associated Press, the California attorney general’s office argued that assault weapons as defined by the law are more dangerous than other firearms and are disproportionately used in crimes, mass shootings and against law enforcement, with more resulting casualties and barring them “furthers the state’s important public safety interests.”
On May 25, the California Senate passed a gun control bill to allow private citizens to file suit for at least $10,000 against makers or sellers of untraceable ghost guns or illegal assault weapons.
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Currently, the U.S. House is considering a bill that would ban assault weapons. The bill is backed by President Joe Biden. H.R. 1808 would:
… expand background checks (H.R. 8) and another bill that would require a longer waiting period for background checks to be completed before a firearm can be sold (H.R. 1446). While the House passed the background check measures, the assault weapons ban has yet to come to the floor.
What countries have banned the type of gun used in the Uvalde shooting?
Here is a list of countries and regions that have banned assault weapon like the one used in Uvalde:
- European Union
- New Zealand
What are Texas’ gun laws on permits, possessing and purchasing firearms?
Changes to gun laws in Texas — often referred to as constitutional carry or permitless carry — took effect in September 2021.
The law allows handguns to be carried without a permit by Texans age 21 or older with a clean criminal record. A person can carry a handgun either concealed or carried openly in a holster.
Texans can carry handguns openly or concealed in public, most state government buildings and businesses that do not prohibit them.
The state already did not require a license to openly carry a long gun, and the open carry of handguns with a permit has been legal since 2016.
The law did not change where guns are banned in the state, nor did it change background check requirements while purchasing a gun. Firearm purchases through licensed gun dealers require a background check unless the buyer has a license to carry. Gun purchases through private sellers do not require a background check.
Federal law prohibits the possession of a handgun by anyone younger than 18, but does not provide a minimum age for the possession of long guns.
Under federal regulations:
- Licensed firearms dealers may not sell or deliver a handgun or ammunition to anyone under age 21. Unlicensed individuals may not sell or transfer a handgun or ammunition to anyone under age 18, with some exceptions.
- For long guns or rifles: Licensed firearms dealers may not sell or deliver to anyone younger than age 18. There are no restrictions for sales or transfers of long guns or rifles from unlicensed individuals.
There are provisions in Texas state law regarding the illegal sale or transfer of firearms that underscore federal regulations.