- Wednesday’s mass shooting, which killed 17 and injured 14 at Parkland, Florida’s Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, involved an AR-15.
- The same gun has been used in the deadliest shootings in modern US history.
- Despite reportedly being banned from carrying a backpack to his own high school for disciplinary reasons, the shooter was allowed to buy and carry the AR-15.
The shooting at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left at least 17 people dead and 14 injured. It shared a common bond with the deadliest mass shootings in modern US history — the AR-15.
When Adam Lanza killed 20 children, six teachers, his mother, and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut in 2012, he used an AR-15.
When Omar Mateen killed 49 and injured 50 shooting up Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, he had a version of an AR-15 among his arsenal.
When Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 23rd story of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Hotel on a crowd at a music festival in Las Vegas in 2017, one of the many guns he had on him was an AR-15.
The next month, Devin Kelly took 26 lives in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, he had an AR-15 style Ruger on him.
Now Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the high school he attacked, has joined the ranks of the deadliest killers in the US by virtue of his weapon of choice.
The AR-15, the civilian version of the military-designed M-16, has been around for decades. In Florida, a minor can buy or possess a rifle like the AR-15 with their parent or guardian’s consent. Business Insider reviewed Florida’s gun laws and found no lower limit for the age of minors who can possess guns with their parent or guardian’s consent.
“The AR-15 has soared in popularity amongst gun owners, due to a wide-range of factors. It is customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate that can be used in sport shooting, hunting and self-defense situations.
“Civilians can also modify and personalize their AR-15 from carbine-length, stocks, optics, barrels, etc. The AR-15s ability to be modified to your own personal taste is one of the things that makes it so unique.”
In the case of Paddock, the deadliest mass shooter in US history, his personal taste involved a “bump stock,” or a device that allowed him to circumvent laws against automatic weapons by turning his semi-automatic rifles into effective automatic weapons.
But even without a bump stock, an AR-15 fires just as quickly as you can pull the trigger, or just about as quick as you can think.
The NRA is right, the AR-15 is nearly infinitely customizable. With shorter barrels and stocks, it can be made small enough to conceal on your person.
It was perfectly legal for a 19-year-old, whose high school would reportedly not allow him on campus with a backpack, who had a history of threatening students, to buy an AR-15.
Cruz’s lawyer told the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel that the AR-15 allegedly used in the shooting was possessed by Cruz legally.
Florida wouldn’t require fingerprints, a special permit, or even a waiting period before Cruz bought his gun. A background check using demographic data would screen him for felony arrests, active warrants, illegal immigration status, any past convictions, or if he had been declared mentally defective or involuntarily committed to an institution by a judge.
At 19 and without a criminal background and as a US citizen, despite Cruz’s disciplinary record at school, all he needed was a few hundred dollars to buy the rifle.