This is the type of damage an AR-15 can inflict — and why we need to see it

This is the type of damage an AR-15 can inflict — and why we need to see it
AR-15 (Wikimedia Commons).

In the United States, two mass shootings that occurred only ten days apart — one in a Buffalo, New York supermarket on May 14 that left ten people dead, the second claiming the lives of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24 — were both committed with semiautomatic AR-15-style assault weapons. Regardless, the National Rifle Association (NRA) adamantly opposes enacting any new restrictions on AR-15s, maintaining that doing so would be an attack on the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment.

The NRA has long used the “slippery slope” argument with AR-15s and semiautomatic assaults weapons, arguing that if politicians are coming for your AR-15 today, they will be going after your handgun tomorrow. But as a CNN report posted on June 9 and a Jennifer Rubin column published by the Washington Post that same day demonstrate, an AR-15 is hardly an ordinary handgun or a run-of-the-mill hunting rifle.

CNN, in its report, explains, “They are known as assault-style weapons and have been used in some of the country’s deadliest shootings. From Uvalde, Tulsa and El Paso to Parkland, San Bernadino and Sandy Hook, the high-powered assault rifle has been the weapon of choice for many of the killers.”

In the video, Los Angeles Police Department officers demonstrated the use of an AR-15 on the LAPD’s gun range. CNN interviewed LAPD Sgt. James Zboravan, who noted that an AR-15 has enough power to pierce soft body armor. Zboravan recalled his first-hand experience with bank robbers who used that type of weapon during a 1997 shootout in North Hollywood, telling CNN, “We were being hit with pieces of the vehicles we were hiding behind, asphalt, radiator fluid — it felt like we were being stung by bees.”

In her June 9 column, Never Trump conservative and Washington Post opinion writer Rubin slams Republicans who oppose even modest restrictions of AR-15s and “play down the destructive force of certain weapons.”

“Among the most infuriating talking points from gun fetishizers is that weapons of war have a legitimate use, such as hunting feral pigs or ‘varmints,’ as Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said on Tuesday, (June 7),” Rubin writes. “Machine guns would kill them, too, but we do not allow such firepower for the purpose of hunting prairie dogs…. The notion that every American must have access to every possible weapon has never been the rule and defies common sense.”

Rubin adds, “Should people be able to buy howitzers? It also turns the Second Amendment into a recipe for mayhem never envisioned by its authors.”

Rubin quotes Texas-based pediatrician Roy Guerrero, noting his graphic description of the carnage he saw first-hand in Uvalde.

“Sometimes, visceral horror is required of the type delivered in testimony on Wednesday, (June 8) from parents of gun victims and from Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician who saw the mangled, unrecognizable bodies of children in the Uvalde, Tex., school shooting,” Rubin writes. “Guerrero told lawmakers he saw ‘two children whose bodies had been pulverized by bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been (so) ripped apart, that the only clue as to their identities was the blood-spattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them.’”

In an article published by The Atlantic on February 22, 2018, Florida-based radiologist Heather Sher described the Parkland shooting victims she treated.

“I was looking at a CT scan of one of the mass-shooting victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift,” Sher recalled. “The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?”

Sher continued, “The reaction in the emergency room was the same. One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room, and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit by a bullet from an AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle that delivers a devastatingly lethal, high-velocity bullet to the victim. Nothing was left to repair — and utterly, devastatingly, nothing could be done to fix the problem. The injury was fatal.”

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in an article published on June 8, recalls that he saw the type of damage semiautomatic weapons can inflict when he was covering the Iraq War in 2003.

“I was embedded with the Devil Docs, the Navy medical team that provides frontline medical care for the Marines,” Gupta remembers. “There are things that my cameraman Mark Biello and I saw on the battlefield that we still have a hard time talking about. They are still hard to even write about: limbs blown clean off the body and wounds so horrific, I thought for sure they must've been caused by a bomb or IED.”

Gupta adds, “I never imagined that just a couple of years later, I would see the same sorts of injuries in U.S. cities, including my own, Atlanta. Those are the days when I come home from the hospital simply unable to talk, let alone describe what I had just witnessed.”

Science writer Sarah Zhang compared ordinary handguns and AR-15s in an article published by Wired on June 17, 2016, pointing out the enormous differences.

“A bullet with more energy can do more damage,” Zhang observed. “Its total kinetic energy is equal to one-half the mass of the bullet times its velocity squared. The bullet from a handgun is — as absurd as it may sound — slow compared to that from an AR-15. It can be stopped by the thick bone of the upper leg. It might pass through the body, only to become lodged in skin, which is surprisingly elastic. The bullet from an AR-15 does an entirely different kind of violence to the human body. It’s relatively small, but it leaves the muzzle at three times the speed of a handgun bullet. It has so much energy that it can disintegrate three inches of leg bone.”

Watch CNN’s video on AR-15s below:

Ballistics researchers give vivid demonstration of how AR-15 bullets tear human flesh apart

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