The Texas shooting in the United States, where five people, including an eight-year-old child, were killed by a neighbour, has brought issues of gun culture and the resulting mass shootings to the fore .
The drunk gunman, believed to be behind the crime, burst into the crowded house and opened fire with his semi-automatic weapon after neighbors complained about the noise in his yard.
The killing in Texas is one of the latest in a string of shootings in the United States, where there have been more than 170 mass shootings, defined as four or more people injured or killed, so far this year.
Although there have been several voices against mass shootings in general and gun laws in particular, the use of assault rifles is generally unchecked in the country with an extensive gun culture.
When it comes to gun culture in America, the AR-15 has been the most ubiquitous and controversial weapon, with a major role in some of the nation’s worst mass shootings.
All about the AR-15
The AR-15 has often been referred to as “the American rifle” and reviled as the weapon of choice for mass shooters.
The gun, which became available in the 1950s, is one of the most popular among gun owners in the United States and there are more than tens of millions currently in circulation.
These pistols fire a bullet by pressing the trigger and automatically reload for later firing. It can also fire 30 shots quickly without reloading.
A 2022 survey found that approximately 20% of gun owners in the United States owned AR-15s. Another study found that one in 20 Americans owns an AR-15.
Used in the worst mass shootings
The infamous AR-15 is designed, like its military version, to kill people quickly and in large numbers, hence its name Assault Rifle.
The weapon, popular among hunters and gun enthusiasts, has been used in frequent mass shootings resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians across the United States.
It has been used in some of the worst mass killings in recent US history, including the 2012 Sandyhook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, where 26 people were killed, including 20 young children.
It was also used in the 2018 Parkland school shooting in Florida, which left 17 people dead. In 2017, during the Las Vegas massacre, 58 people died from gunshot wounds. Similarly, in the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, 49 people were shot dead.
Earlier this month, Washington State became the 10th nationwide to ban the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles. However, the legislation does not prohibit the possession but rather the sale and transfer of assault weapons.
Washington law blocks the sale, distribution, manufacture and import of more than 50 models of firearms, including AR-15s, AK-47s and similar style rifles.
Nine states, including California, New York and Massachusetts, as well as the District of Columbia, have already passed similar bans. Colorado is also debating similar measures regarding firearms.
Bill Clinton bans the AR-15
In 1994, then US President Bill Clinton signed an Assault Weapons Ban, which banned the AR-15 and other similar semi-automatic rifles for ten years.
During Prohibition, mass shootings declined over the decade. However, when the law expired in 2004, gun manufacturers quickly began production and sales increased.
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