By Dylan Klim
Copy Support & Staff Writer
Whether it was at Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs or the most recent incident in Parkland, five out of the six deadliest mass shootings of the past decade have involved the use of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.
AR-15s are self-loading rifles that fire a single round each time the trigger is pulled and have become today’s modern sporting firearm. By nature, an AR-15 is not an assault weapon, as these types of guns, like machine guns, are fully automatic.
“The AR-15 is such a great weapon,” said Steven McGillicuddy, officer of the Miramar police department. “At the same time, what makes it so great is what makes it so bad, especially when it is in the wrong hands.”
The National Rifle Association calls the AR-15 the most popular weapon in the U.S. today. Despite its popularity, however, much of the American population questions why the AR-15 is continuously being used and why a 19-year-old, who has had a previous history of mental illness and had posted threatening statuses on social media, can even obtain one?
Florida has a three-day waiting period to purchase a handgun, and individuals must be 21 years of age to begin the process. The process of buying a rifle is entirely different among states. Florida’s process, however, makes it significantly easier for people like Nikolas Cruz to purchase the weapon.
The process in which Floridians must undergo to purchase a gun is quite simple. In fact, anyone who lacks an officially recognized record can walk into a gun store, wait a few minutes to be cleared of a background check and walk out with one of the most powerful weapons available.
At gun shows, which are extremely common in the state of Florida, the purchase of an AR-15 or any other similar types of weapons do not require a background check. An individual only needs a gun license to make a purchase, commonly known as the “gun show loophole.”
“A lot of people use the AR-15 and similar rifles in general because it doesn’t require as much skill,” said Officer McGillicuddy. “The AR-15 is extremely lightweight, easy to obtain and accurate. You can fire numerous rounds at a high rate.”
Today, roughly five million people in the U.S. own AR-15s according to CNBC. As responsibility can vary in regards to the individual possessing the rifle, these semi-automatics have often fallen into the wrong hands. Due to this, police officers now carry the same type of weapon in the trunks of their cars to match the level of threat.
In the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, numerous citizens are wondering what can be done to put an end to these tragedies, pushing for stricter laws and regulations on gun purchasing. Officer McGillicuddy is one of many looking for adjustments to America’s open gun laws.
In an effort to put an end to the circulation of these firearms, Ben Dickmann, husband of Lynn admission counselor Karen Fisher-Dickmann, turned over his upgraded version of the AR-15 to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Like many, the Dickmann family is hoping to lead by example regarding this weapon.
“My husband thought something needed to be done since the Las Vegas shooting occurred,” said Fisher-Dickmann. “With it being so close to home, Ben saw a need and has started a social media movement.”