The weapons have been used in massacres that have horrified the nation, including one that left 10 people dead at a grocery store in Buffalo and another where 19 children and two teachers were shot to death in Uvalde, Texas.
The gun first came to national prominence when it was thought to have been used by deranged gunman Adam Lanza when he massacred 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut in 2012.
The weapon used by Lanza, was an ‘AR-15-style rifle’ which was made by Remington known as a Bushmaster.
Since then, activists have used images of the weapon to symbolize the need for gun control, arguing that the assault rifle a weapon of war and that there is no need for members of the public to own them.
Gun violence prevention activist Shannon Watts epitomized the reaction from activists tweeting repeatedly on Tuesday night: ‘It’s harder to buy Sudafed than an AR-15 in Maine.’
There are renewed calls for AR-15 rifles to be banned in the US
Anti-gun activist Shannon Watts immediately began posting her outrage about gun accessibility in Maine after news of the shooting emerged
Liberal pastor urged his followers to stop voting for Republicans who are against banning assault rifles
Parkland High School student David Hogg called out Rep. Lauren Boebert’s call for prayers for Lewiston
In the wake of Tuesday’s mass shooting, liberal pastor John Pavlovitz took to Facebook to say: ‘ The mass shooting in Maine was carried about with the same AR-15 that Republicans in Congress are wearing pins of. If you want to stop gun violence, stop electing Republicans.’
A person left a comment under that post reading: ‘And yet another Mass shooting in America … Another AR-15 ….22 Dead … More than +60 people hurt/ severely injured … More guns is NOT the answer … Thoughts and Prayers is NOT the answer.’
While liberal lobby group Stand for Better put out a message on X that read: ‘Two mass shootings in Lewiston Maine. At least 16 dead. Rest assured Speaker of The House Mike Johnson and The GOP will legislate a national ban on abortion instead of banning the AR-15.’
A Maine resident meanwhile called out Senator Susan Collins after her official account posted a photo of person of interest Robert Card asking for information about the suspect.
The resident chastised the Republican senator for voting against an assault weapons ban.
‘It’s almost like giving people weapons of war and then putting them on the honor system isn’t working…,’ Shannon Watts later wrote on X.
In response, right-wing activist Laura Loomer alleged that liberal outrage is merely an election strategy. ‘Today you can expect Joe Biden and the Democrats to blame the shooting in #Maine last night on conservatives. The Democrats want to make Gun control & abortion their two biggest issues on the ballot going into 2024.
Conspiracy Truths host Cindy Robinson also said that the Democrats were likely to use the shooting to push for a ‘gun grab.’
‘Maine is completely Democrat and RINO controlled, but I’m sure the Feds will find a way to push a gun grab anyway,’ she wrote on X.
In April 2023, Washington State became the ninth Democrat-led state to ban the purchase of AR-15 style rifles.
California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Illinois, Delaware and the District of Columbia are the other states with similar bans in place.
Despite California having had a since, the Golden State still ranks as the number one in terms of mass shootings with 26, twice as many the second place Texas, which has no such ban.
Just this week, a federal judge in California overturned the state’s ban on assault rifles, calling the ban unconstitutional.
Earlier this year, a group of Republicans controversially wore assault rifle pins on their lapels during a hearing on gun safety on Capitol Hill, those wearing the pins included under-fire Rep. George Santos and Colorad’s Lauren Boebert.
Boebert called those hearings a ‘political stunt’ by Democrats.
Rep. George Santos, who is under indictment for the misuse of campaign funds, wore an assault rifle lapel pin in on Capitol Hill in February
In July 2022, the Committee on Oversight and Reform said some ads mimic popular first-person shooter video games or tout the weapons’ military pedigree while others claim the guns will put buyers ‘at the top of the testosterone food chain.’
Those sales tactics are ‘deeply disturbing, exploitative and reckless,’ said Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York. ‘In short, the gun industry is profiting off the blood of innocent Americans.’
Gun makers, on the other hand, said AR-15-style rifles are responsible for a small portion of gun homicides and the blame must go to the shooters rather than their weapons.
‘What we saw in Uvalde, Buffalo and Highland Park was pure evil,’ said Marty Daniels, the CEO of Daniel Defense, the company that made the weapon used in the Uvalde shooting. ‘The cruelty of the murderers who committed these acts is unfathomable and deeply disturbs me, my family, my employees and millions of Americans across this country.’
However, he added later in testimony before the committee, ‘I believe that these murders are local problems that have to be solved locally.’
Gun violence overall spiked in 2020, but recent statistics indicate it is coming down this year in many cities.
Assault weapons as defined by the law are more dangerous than other firearms and are disproportionately used in crimes, mass shootings and against law enforcement, with more resulting casualties, the state attorney general’s office argued in 2021, and barring them ‘furthers the state’s important public safety interests.’