The rifle used to terrorize a Colorado LGBTQ nightclub over the weekend was the same assault-style rifle used to carry out several mass shootings over the past decade — including last month’s shooting in St. Louis.
Just before midnight on Saturday, Anderson Lee Aldrich in Colorado Springs opened fire with an AR-15, killing at least 5 people and injuring at least 25 others.
Orlando Harris used the same style rifle last month in his shooting at Central Visual Performing Arts High School and the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience.
Many other mass shootings were carried out with the same weapon. To list just a few:
- 2022 shooting in Uvalde, Texas
- 2022 shooting in Buffalo, New York
- 2021 shooting in Boulder, Colorado
- 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida
- 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg
- 2017 shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip
- 2016 shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando
- 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting
- 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado
Once dubbed as “America’s rifle” by the National Rifle Association, the AR-15 and other assault rifles are generally capable of firing more bullets faster than manual hunting rifles, according to Everytown For Gun Safety. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon, meaning the rifle allows for rapid-fire shooting by automatically reloading after each shot.
Calls to ban AR-15-style rifles renew after most every shooting. Some lawmakers have proposed raising the age required to buy the rifles (the CVPA shooter was 19, the Colorado shooter 22) others have called for an outright ban. President Biden on Saturday again called for an assault-weapons ban
After this year’s shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform investigated how the gun industry profits from the sale of AR-15-style assault rifles.
Gun manufacturers have made over $1 billion in AR-15 sales in the past decade, the report found, and at times appeal to young men’s “manhood” or play on extremist organizations’ fears of government repression through targeted advertisements.
While assault rifles have been used for several recent mass shootings, handguns are still by far the most common weapon type used in shootings.
Some blame loose or ineffective gun laws that allow weapons to get into the hands of unstable owners.
Gun reform groups say Missouri has some of the weakest gun laws in the country. Harris was able to purchase his AR-15 rifle even after he failed an FBI background check.
We’ll see if Missouri, or the country, ever learns from past tragedies