People love the AR-15 rifle for a variety of reasons. They’re easy to use and cool. Unfortunately, such appealing characteristics make this rifle not only attractive to law-abiding gun enthusiasts but also to malcontents with malice. That’s why a significant number of mass shooters opt for this weapon. The AR-15 can have many accessories. For instance, if you need to store it while on the move, check out the AR-15 tactical bag. It ensures that the weapon is secure while you heft it.

What is the AR-15?

The AR-15 is a collective name for a group of weapons, many of which are semi-automatic. The “AR” stands for Armalite, a corporate division of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation. Eugene Stoner, a former member of the United States Marine Corps, is credited with engineering the original AR-15 design. Colt’s Manufacturing Company acquired the patent for the AR-15 design in 1959. It became the sole manufacturer of AR-15 weapons for the next 18 years before the patent expired. This opened the door for other weapons manufacturers to replicate the design of the AR-15. Many of them began producing large amounts of AR-15 designs. This, among other factors, led to the subsequent popularity (and infamy) of the AR-15 as many such weapons became readily accessible.

The AR-15 family of weapons now has many iterations. Its most common versions include:

I) M16: This has been the official weapon of the US Military since 1963. 

ii) HK416: This is an assault rifle manufactured by the German company Heckler & Koch. However, its gas-action system derives from the AR-15

iii) M4: This weapon is a subset of the M16 

iv) Colt-automatic rifle (CAR)-15: All this brand of AR-15 has been discontinued for combat by the US military, but it is still available in some countries.

It’s crucial to remember that numerous manufacturers incorporate their own designs into that of the original AR-15 type. This means that the AR-15 style has numerous designs and versions now more than ever.

The original AR-15 attributes much of its success to its unique engineering. Even today, most parts of the AR-15 rifles are manufactured in a modular way. This means that they are designed to be so interchangeable that their spare parts can be found just about anywhere. This quality has greatly contributed to the ease of use of the AR-15 family of rifles. 

Because of the many iterations of the AR-15, it has come to be known as the black rifle.

Why Mass Shooters Love the AR-15

Many of the reasons that made the AR-15 family of rifles attractive to the regular gun buyer is the same ones that draw mass shooters to them. These reasons include:

1) Being Fashionable

The AR-15 has come to represent the positive qualities of freedom and self-reliance–qualities that represent American culture. As such, it is seen as a ‘cool’ weapon among many gun enthusiasts. Of course, such symbolism also draws malicious individuals who intend to shoot others.

2) Being Easy to Use

Unlike many other guns of similar size, the AR-15 has little recoil. The gun’s recoil is the sudden jerking, backward movement when it is fired. Unless you’re well trained, recoil can cause shoulder injury in addition to making your aim very erratic. Such things are less likely to occur when firing an AR-15. With little recoil, it offers remarkable accuracy even for someone using it for the first time. This explains why an individual like a disgruntled teenager with no previous gun experience can easily pick up an AR-15 and shoot remarkably well.

3) Affordability

For a military-style-looking weapon, the AR-15 is remarkably affordable. You can purchase one for as little as $500. While customized models can go for as high as $2000, most people that buy them are usually content with the generic model.

4) Customizable

The AR-15 is one of the few rifle types that’s easy to customize. As mentioned earlier, its engineering is such that its components are so interchangeable that you can find them almost anywhere. With the necessary skill set, you can play around with the different parts to create an AR-15 that’s more to your taste. For instance, you can add a laser scope for better accuracy or adapt it to use a magazine for customized bullets.

The ‘Social Proof’ Effect

Social proof is a powerful thing. Given that humans are social beings copying the behaviors of others is often the norm in very many situations and interactions. When many people are following a particular trend, this can gain acceptance among many people, regardless of morality or other considerations.

Many mass shooters have opted to use the AR-15 simply because of its ‘success’ in previous mass shootings. Whatever the dark intentions of the individual, knowing that this type of rifle has been successfully used to cause mayhem is proof for them that they can accomplish what they want.

Of course, mass shootings have resulted in public outrage. This has prompted the authorities to attempt to ban the sale of AR-15 rifles. With the threat of such a ban comes panic among many gun lovers. Fearing a possible ban, many such gun enthusiasts have purchased more AR-15 rifles. This, together with increased media coverage of mass shootings, has led to increased sales (and popularity) of the weapon.

All in all, the AR-15 rifle is a weapon like any other. Its use depends solely on who possesses it. While unintentional, its positive characteristics have also made it ideal for mass shooters.

By Manali