This Reporter Bought The Same Rifle The Orlando Shooter Used In Less Than 7 Minutes

In the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Orlando on June 12, there has been a lot of discussion — as well as justified rage — about the wide availability of weapons like the one used at Pulse. In a disturbing example, one Philadelphia reporter bought an AR-15 in seven minutes. That’s right: In the United States, you can buy a semiautomatic rifle in seven minutes. To put that in perspective, that’s less time than it would take you to listen to “Hey Jude” all the way through.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting in Orlando on Sunday, the Orlando Police Department described one of the shooter’s weapons as an “AR-15-type assault rifle.” The AR-15 is a popular choice among mass shooters; it’s the same gun used in mass shootings in San Bernardino, Sandy Hook, and the Aurora movie theatre. In the days following the Orlando attack, authorities revealed that the gunman’s weapon was actually a Sig Sauer MCX. Like the AR-15, the MCX is a modular semiautomatic rifle. It’s aesthetically similar to the AR-15, but it has a different operating system. (Slate’s Justin Peters writes that though the MCX and AR-15 aren’t identical, they “are certainly neighbors.”)

Following the Orlando shooting, Philadelphia Daily News reporter Helen Ubiñas decided to find out just how hard it is to buy an AR-15, the weapon that Joshua Koskoff, the lawyer representing the families of Sandy Hook victims, has described as “the gold standard for mass murder of innocent civilians.” It turned out to be shockingly easy.

Ubiñas describes how, on her way to the gun store, she started thinking of justifications she could use for buying the gun. “What if I'm asked why, a day after this massacre, I want to buy the very type of gun used to slaughter people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando,” she writes.

I consider my options:

I'm a woman who wants a rifle for safety reasons?

I'm a gun enthusiast with a soft spot for military-style rifles?

I'm a card-carrying member of the NRA who is afraid the government will be coming for my guns?

But she needn’t have worried: The AR-15 was in the shop window, being “promoted as the gun of the week.” The sales clerk asked for her ID, asked if she was an American citizen, and gave her some paperwork to fill out. A few minutes later, she paid $759.99 and walked out the door with her very own AR-15.

Ubiñas writes that she didn’t actually want the gun, so she took it to a police station to turn it in, a process that turned out the be a lot more involved than buying the gun in the first place. “Have you ever tried to turn in a gun in this city?” she asks. “Spoiler alert: It takes longer than it does to buy a gun.”

You can read Ubiñas full essay here.