In 2012, 12 people were shot in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. A few months later in Newtown, Connecticut, 20 children were shot in their elementary school including teachers and the mother of the shooter. In 2015, 16 people were killed, and 24 were wounded in San Bernardino, California. In 2016, about 100 people either were murdered or badly wounded in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This year, our country saw its deadliest mass shooting. A country concert in Las Vegas, Nevada is where 58 people lost their lives, and more than 500 people were left wounded.

These events only account for a handful of the gun violence and trauma this country has seen. We are left hurt, devastated, and confused. To find a bit of understanding as to why these horrific acts are being done, I began to look into the tools that mass-murderers are using. One of the most common weapons of mass destruction is the AR-15 rifle or its variants.

The AR-15 style models look almost identical to the military grade assault rifles such as the M-16 or the M-4 carbine. The only difference is that the military grade assault rifles are automatic and can fire off several shots without having to pull the trigger more than once. Nevertheless, an AR-15 style rifle is semi-automatic therefore can still fire rounds at a very quick pace. And, if this weapon wasn’t already deadly enough, you can add accessories such as foregrips, scopes, and red-dot sights. The weapon is capable of firing a bullet at such a power that it will penetrate straight through a human body and still puncture a wall behind it.

An AR-15 only costs between $500 and $900, making it one of the more affordable weapons and not out of reach for consumers. They were once prohibited under The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. However, when that ban expired in 2004, sales surged and have since been labeled as “modern sporting rifles” and marketed for home defense.

My question is, why are we allowing these dangerous people access to some of the deadliest weapons? America is in need of a new set of gun laws which can stand to protect our citizens. Gun laws will not end gun violence in its whole, but it can dramatically decrease the chance of it happening as often as we’re now seeing it and as massive as it has become.