The AR-15, the gun used in the Orlando mass shooting, has a long history in the U.S. worst mass shootings. The gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, had legally purchased two guns, the AR-15, and a 9mm semiautomatic pistol.

With the ubiquitous and aluminum rifle, the AR-15 is manufactured by many companies nationwide, and it is a civilian variant of the military’s M-16 series of rifles and carbines. Most Americans prefer it due to its light weight and its possibility for multiple modifications, as reported by the Washington Post.

AR-15 used in Orlando shooting
The AR-15 rifle is becoming the mass shooters’ weapon of choice. Credit: Town Hall

As the most popular gun in the country, the semiautomatic gun has had a few tragic scenarios. Even though it has not been so commonly used in robberies, recently the gun has been used in shootings in San Bernardino, California, Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.

The AR-15 is chambered in a .223 cartridge, which means that the bullet diameter is about that same length, and it can cost between $800 to $180, depending on the manufacturer brand. Although it is commonly sold in a standard matte black, it can also be found in pink.

But even though it is sold to the public in its semiautomatic version, because it can be easily altered, people can avoid applying for the automatic gun through the extensive paperwork from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Also, the cost of the legally obtained automatic one can be much higher. It is unknown whether Mateen’s gun had been altered somehow or just remained with the original version.

Pledged allegiance

After Mateen had initiated the shooting in the Pulse nightclub, he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, through a 911 phone call. During the call, he made reference to the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, federal officials declared under the condition of anonymity to the Washington Post.

The Orlando shooting has been qualified as the worst in America’s history, which left at least 50 people killed and many more injured. Until Sunday, the worst one had been the 2007 rampage at Virginia Tech, where 32 people died.

“As Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people,” President Barack Obama declared while referring to the Orlando shooting. He assured the case is being investigated as a terrorist attack by the FBI.

Mateen had been on the FBI radar before, just like the Boston Marathon attackers were. He raised some concerns from his co-workers when he allegedly made some comments alleging possible ties to terrorist.

The investigation came to an end when the FBI was unable to verify the details of his comment at the time. However, the following year the agency investigated possible ties connecting Mateen to Moner Mohammad Abusalha, the first American to carry out a suicide attack in Syria.

“We determined that contact was minimal and did not constitute a substantive relationship or a threat at that time,” FBI Special Agent Ron Hopper said during a press briefing about the shooting in Orlando.

Source: The Washington Post