AR-15: The Story of a Rifle


A Colt AR-15 rifle, the original AR-15 style rifle | CHRIS BROWNING / GunNewsDaily

Amila Niksic, Writer

In the aftermath of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and faculty members lost their lives, many of the survivors have spoken out against assault rifles, loose gun laws, and the NRA. They have also been encouraging major gun retailers to take assault rifles off of their shelves and raise the minimum buying age.  While at first these attempts were shot down, the replies have started to roll in. Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG) was the first major company to immediately stop the sale of all assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Dick’s also raised the buying age from 18 to 21. The CEO of DSG, Edward Stack, called for very specific gun regulations rather than silently voicing his support. He said “We implore our elected officials to enact common sense gun reform and pass the following regulations,” and he also advocated for the discontinuation of bump-stock (devices that enable a semi-automatic rifle to act as an automatic rifle) sales, as well as universal background checks for all purchasers, with a focus on mental health and previous run-ins with the law.  After Dick’s made their announcement, another major weapons retailer, Walmart, followed suit. They raised their buying age and discontinued the sale of bump-stocks, high-capacity magazines, and AR-15 assault rifles. Soon after these announcements, Dick’s and Walmart were served with a lawsuit by a 20-year-old man in Michigan over the increased buying age, and The Eagle will be following that story as it plays out.

As these changes come into effect, it is important to look at why they are so important.  AR-15 assault rifles were first used during the Vietnam War. They were used because they were lighter and easier to control than similar weapons. The reason they became so popular is due to their specific design for maximum shock absorption while shooting, as well as the ease and speed of interchanging magazines.  The only difference between the version used in the 1960s and the one used now is that the AR-15 is currently being sold as a semi-automatic rifle (one bullet per one pull of the trigger). However, it can easily be customized into a fully-automatic rifle with the purchase of a bump stock. With only 8 lbs. of pressure and a bump stock, a shooter can use his semi-automatic rifle as a weapon of war. In fact, it is easier to purchase a semi-automatic rifle than it is to purchase a simple handgun, which requires a three day waiting period. To put things in perspective, a person must be eighteen to purchase a semi-automatic rifle, meaning they can buy a gun before they can legally consume and buy alcohol.

AR-15 style rifles are not just easy to purchase. They also win the award for being used in the most mass shootings and taking the lives of the most people in America, including: 50 people in Orlando, FL in 2016, 59 people with 422 injuries in Las Vegas, NV in 2017, 27 people in Sutherland Springs, TX in 2017, 28 people (mostly small children) in Newtown, CT in 2012, and 17 people (mostly high school students and faculty) in Parkland, FL most recently in 2018  Each of these shootings was carried out at least in part with an AR-15 type customized automatic assault rifle. The only way to stop these merciless slaughters is to stop the distribution of assault rifles, or to at least enact federal regulations and legislation that implement universal background checks, raise buying ages, tighten mental health regulations, and impose criminal background checks for those who wish to purchase semi-automatic assault rifles.

I urge you to contact your representatives about passing gun legislation to save lives and ensure that mass shootings like the one in Parkland do not happen again.

Image credit: Chris Browning / GunNewsDaily