Rifle used in shooting at Orlando nightclub has sparked the debate surrounding America’s gun laws anew. The infamous AR-15 rifle that shooter Omar Mateen purchased legally to execute the worst massacre in U.S. history has a gory past. It was used in the mass shooting that killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December, 2015, and also in the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
In the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, 50 people were killed with the help of the rifle and 53 others injured. The gay bar and dance club was popular as a Latino hotspot, and yet, in the most chilling of reminders of the need for gun control, its Facebook page is topped by a dire call for its members to leave its premises and run to safety.
Too many incidents have happened for us not to take a more aggressive stance on gun control. No one NEEDS an assault weapon. Period.— Jinkx Monsoon (@JinkxMonsoon) June 13, 2016
The 29-year-old Omar Mateen had the.223 caliber AR-15 rifle and a Glock handgun on him when he entered Pulse — both of which, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, he bought legally — as reported by ABC News.
ATF: The gunman legally purchased the firearms within the last week. In Florida.— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) June 12, 2016
While the jury’s still out on whether a blanket ban on assault rifles would, in fact, result in less violence, a large part of President Obama’s January plans in reducing gun violence involved increased access to mental care for the disturbed, so that they do not take recourse to firearms. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also tweeted for gun control in the wake of the shooting.
"We need to keep guns like the ones used last night out of the hands of terrorists or other violent criminals." —Hillary on the FL attack— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 12, 2016
Of the six federal states in the U.S. that regulate the possession of the AR-15 rifle, Florida is not one. Such is the complexity surrounding the rifle, that while the lower receiver of it is considered to fall under U.S. firearm laws’ purchasing restrictions, the upper receiver can be legally bought. In Florida, especially, no permit or prior registration is required to purchase rifles.
Bustle draws attention to the fact that many on social media have expressed their outrage over the irony of disallowing gay people to donate blood in the wake of the shooting, but letting gun purchasers and sellers go unnoticed in the radar. The rifle used by Mateen is a semi-automatic and self-loading machine that has a protracted military past, as the ‘M16’ rifle.
The popularity of the rifle is also partially accounted for by the glorification of owning re-purposed military guns through advertisements. Bushmaster, a manufacturer of the AR-15 rifle, for instance, uses the slogan, “Consider Your Man Card Reissued,” as a dubious call to masculinity, as pointed out by lawyer Joshua Koskoff during the Sandy Hook lawsuit, as reported by Pix11.
While websites like The Medium have prepared guides for citizens to contact elected representatives regarding gun violence, celebrities have called out for stricter gun control laws across the United States, citing damning statistics that often point to the serious steps that demand to be taken.
It is also significant that while Mateen had been previously investigated by the FBI, his records did not show up at the time of his gun purchase as his involvement with terror activities was found inconclusive and the cases were closed, even though he was thought to have links with suicide bomber Moner Abu Salha. Furthermore, Omar had been issued a license to work as an armed security officer and as he was not a prohibited person, he could easily walk into an arms store and buy the rifle he wanted.
While horror over the shootings gives way to sadness, the deadly rifle used in shooting people who were engaged in something as innocuous as a hip-hop dance party in a club, has sparked the debate regarding the necessity of gun control anew in the U.S.
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