The school massacre in Nashville joins the long list of mass shootings and terrorist attacks in the United States, in which a weapon is usually used.
USA – Once again, the United States is shaken by an attack with firearms. This time, eight people die in Dallas, Texas, and seven others are wounded. The perpetrator is said to have connections in neo-Nazi circles. One of the murder weapons has been confirmed: Again, it was an AR 15 assault rifle.
Back in March of this year, an attacker with the same rifle killed six people at a school in the US state of Tennessee. Among the victims were three nine-year-old children. Police shot and killed the attacker, believed to be a transgender man, on the spot, bringing the death toll to seven.
U.S. gun shooting: Joe Biden promotes tougher gun laws
After the attack in Dallas, US President Joe Biden appeared in front of the cameras, as he did after the events in Nashville, to once again call for tougher gun laws in the USA. What happened at the Christian school was the "worst nightmare of every family," Biden said.
The AR 15 assault rifle, here at an NRA conference in Dallas, Texas. (Archive image) © JUSTIN SULLIVAN/AFP
Rampage in Nashville and Dallas - each with AR15 assault rifle
Both attackers used an AR15 assault rifle as a tool. It is precisely these weapons that the Democrats want to ban in the United States. But the Republicans reject any tightening of the gun law. "I once again urge Congress to pass my ban on assault rifles. It's time for us to start making progress," Biden said at a meeting with representatives of the middle class at the White House.
The assault rifle with the designation AR15 was initially considered unpopular, especially among connoisseurs. According to Politico, the powerful gun lobby organization NRA (National Rifle Association) focused more on promoting classic hunting rifles and handguns. The AR15 was considered useless for hunting and oversized for defense. But in the wake of increasingly extreme polarization, a perceived threat and the resulting increase in armament, AR15 assault rifles became the absolute bestseller of the arms industry.
Killing sprees in the USA - AR15 assault rifle is a bestseller
The semi-automatic assault rifle is now considered the best-selling rifle in the United States, according to the Washington Post. There is said to be at least one AR16 in 15 million households in the country. Almost every manufacturer now produces an assault rifle of this kind. According to an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, two-thirds of all gun purchases in the U.S. in 2016 included an AR15. The model, once developed for the military, is considered accurate and easy to use even for less experienced shooters.
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Also very popular with members of the right-wing radical Boogalo movement: AR15 assault rifles. (Archive image) © John C. Clark via www.imago-images.de
Depictions of the assault rifle can be found on T-shirts, they are available as key chains and table lighters. A Republican representative from the US state of Alabama presented a law in February 2023 that would ennoble the AR15 as the "national weapon of America". As the news portal Newsweek reports, even some Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives like to wear pins in the shape of an assault rifle.
However, the AR15 is also particularly popular with people who want to attack schools and shoot children. It is also used in terrorist attacks and other killing sprees. According to the New York Times and Washington Post, attackers used the assault rifle in ten of the 17 deadliest mass shootings and terrorist attacks since 2012.
Mass shootings in the USA in which AR15 assault rifles were used
- 2012: Aurora, Colorado: A man armed with an AR15 enters a movie theater and kills twelve people.
- 2012: Newtown, Connecticut: An elementary school shooting kills 28 people, including 20 children. The perpetrator, armed with an AR15 assault rifle, among other things, then shoots himself.
- 2015: San Bernadino, California: In a terrorist attack, two assassins kill 14 people with AR15 assault rifles, among other things.
- 2017: Sutherland Springs, Texas: A man enters a Baptist church with an AR15 and shoots 26 people.
- 2017: Las Vegas, Nevada: A 64-year-old man opens fire on visitors to a music festival from a hotel room. 60 people die. In total, the man had 24 firearms in his suite, including an AR15 semi-automatic assault rifle.
- 2018: Parkland, Florida: A 19-year-old man shoots and kills 14 students and three adults in a school – armed with an AR15.
- 2018: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania: In an anti-Semitic terrorist attack, an attacker kills eleven people in a synagogue, most of them with his Colt AR15.
- 2021: Boulder, Colorado: Ten people die in a supermarket shooting. The murder weapon: an AR15 from the manufacturer Ruger.
- 2022: Uvalde, Texas: At an elementary school, an 18-year-old boy kills 21 people, including 19 children, with a Daniel Defense AR15.
- 2022: Buffalo, New York: An 18-year-old boy shoots ten people in a supermarket, armed with a Bushmaster AR15.
- 2023: Nashville, Tennessee: In an attack on a school, a transgender man kills six people with an AR15. The police finally shoot the attacker.
- 2023: Dallas, Texas: Eight people die from bullets from an AR15 assault rifle after a department store shooting. An attacker is shot dead by a police officer.
But even if, for example, a shooting spree in Australia in 1995 that killed 35 people led the Conservative government to ban all assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons within a few weeks, that doesn't mean much for the US. In 2023 alone, the organization "Gun Violence Archive" counted 130 so-called "mass shootings" - i.e. gun attacks in which at least four people were hit (injured or killed). In January and February alone, 141 people were killed and 365 injured.
Still, there is little sign that Republicans are willing to deviate from their position and seriously tighten gun laws in the US. (Daniel Dillmann)