When Eugene Stoner invented the AR-15 assault rifle, he did this for military use only, and the gun was never intended to be purchased by the general public. However, sales are soaring since the recent brutal mass shooting in Orlando.
After the bloody mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the AR-15 is one of the most talked about guns in America. However, the original creator of the weapon died before it became popular with the general public, and his family has now spoken up about it.
The Stoner family were interviewed by NBC News on Wednesday this week and explained that their father, Eugene, designed the AR-15, and what became the M16, as a military weapon to give American soldiers an edge over the AK-47. They went on to say their father would have been horrified by recent events.
"He died long before any mass shootings occurred. But, we do think he would have been horrified and sickened as anyone, if not more by these events."Speaking to NBC on grounds of anonymity by phone and email, Stoner's surviving children and adult grandchildren decided to open up about the AR-15. However, they did, reportedly, stop short on speaking about gun policies and legal opinions.
Look what's going on in my predominantly conserv. area! "You don't go hunting w AR15s unless you're hunting humans" pic.twitter.com/8LYdnHDKbCHowever, their words did shed light on Stoner's intentions for the weapon and added more power to the effort to ban weapons like the AR-15 from being in civilian hands.
— GottaLaff (@GottaLaff) June 17, 2016
Stoner reportedly designed the original AR-15 back in the late 1950s, initially working in his own garage, and then later as the chief designer for ArmaLite, which was then a small company in southern California.
In his design, he made the gun light and powerful and designed a new bullet for the weapon – a.223 caliber metal piercing round. The U.S. army was extremely impressed with the weapon and renamed it the M16.
Reportedly, Eugene Stoner was an "avid sportsman, hunter and skeet shooter," but his family said he never used his own invention and did not keep one around the house for personal defense. In fact, he never owned an AR-15.
Stoner's family said their father did make millions from the design of the weapon, but only from sales to the military.
"After many conversations with him, we feel his intent was that he designed it as a military rifle," his family said, adding that their father was "focused on making the most efficient and superior rifle possible for the military."
It was only after Stoner passed away at the age of 74 in 1997 that a semi-automatic version of the AR-15 became popular with civilians and reportedly also spawned many copycat weapons. Since then, the National Rifle Association dubs it "America's rifle."
Gunmakers have been selling AR-15s to civilians for over fifty years https://t.co/vB55QLdmFv pic.twitter.com/BnKuJUcZra"America's rifle" was used in the mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last Sunday morning and the bullets that tore through the crowd were reportedly Stoner's.223 rounds, fired from a Sig Sauer AR-15 spin-off. It is not only the Pulse nightclub shooting, however, as a similar rifle was used in at least 10 of the recent mass shootings.
— Motherboard (@motherboard) June 16, 2016
Adam Lanza reportedly used one in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. shooting on December 14, 2012, where 20 children and six adults were killed.
James Holmes was convicted of 24 counts of murder and 140 counts of attempted murder, after the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Co. in July 2012, where he used such a weapon.
More recently, a similar gun was used to kill 14 people and seriously injure 22 in a terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.
Stoner's family added, "What has happened, good or bad, since his patents have expired is a result of our free market system."
They added, "Currently, a more interesting question is 'Who now is benefiting from the manufacturing and sales of AR-15s, and for what uses?'"
What is more scary is the fact, as reported by Fox Business, that some 30,000 AR-15s have been sold on one particular website online in the week since the Orlando shooting.
Tom Engle, owner of Hunter's Warehouse, told Stuart Varney that his online operation – consisting of some 300,000 to 400,000 in inventory – has made those huge sales just since Sunday's tragic event.
However, according to Engle, it is not the shootings that push up sales, it is talk of banning particular guns that increases business.
"Shootings don't push up gun sales. It's when the government starts talking about banning particular guns and up go gun sales. When people lose their right to buy a particular gun or a particular type of gun, they go after them and they want them then," he said.
[Photo by Thomas Cooper/Getty Images]