Could The AR-15 Rifle Be Banned? The Orlando Massacre Has Activists Calling For It

POMPANO BEACH, FL - JANUARY 16: An AR-15 is seen for sale on the wall at the National Armory gun store on January 16, 2013 in Pompano Beach, Florida. President Barack Obama today in Washington, DC announced a broad range of gun initiatives that his administration thinks will help curb gun violence. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred June 12 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The firearm used in the shooting was a Sig Sauer MCX, initially misreported as the popular AR-15. The miscommunication is understandable, as the AR-15 was used in the shootings at Sandy Hook, Aurora, San Bernardino, Umpqua College, and elsewhere. As America has witnessed these tragedies, many are seeking a ban on the AR-15 and similar semiautomatic weapons. Is this even a feasible option? Can the AR-15 be banned?

A few options for making the country a little safer from gun violence are currently in discussion. Many Americans do not feel an outright ban is the solution, but there are many who believe that assault weapons are not intended for civilian use, nor protected by the Second Amendment. There are a few different ways American policymakers and citizens alike are trying to institute a ban.

Bans On Larger Magazines

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Some gun control proponents are discussing the banning of larger-capacity ammunition magazines, such as the popular sort which can hold 100 rounds. Although some states already do this, standards are not consistent across the nation, which weakens those existing bans. For example, if magazine capacity were reduced to 10, as this writer suggests, the Orlando shooter would have had to carry 20 magazines on him and reload 20 times to fire the more than 200 rounds he did. Instead, he likely only had to reload about a third of that, as the Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber rifle's magazine capacity is 30 rounds. 

The Outcome Of Sen. Chris Murphy's Filibuster

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Senate Democrats rose to join the filibuster, led by Senator Murphy (D-Connecticut), who referenced the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut from 2012 to drive home that enough is enough. "I am proud to announce that after 14+ hours on the floor, we will have a vote on closing the terror gap & universal background checks," he tweeted as the filibuster finished. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida had discussed how the gun used to kill 49 people at Pulse would have been illegal if Congress had renewed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

The NRA and Senate Republicans have been against such a move, and most Republican members of Congress still are. Supporting and encouraging the fight against the NRA, either through phone calls to local senators or through donations to Democratic candidates up for election, would strengthen this effort.

A Reinstatement Of The Federal Assault Weapons Ban

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There is also talk of reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which would effectively ban any and all assault weapons, including the AR-15. In addition, President Obama is pushing the "No Fly, No Buy" program, in an effort to make it harder for suspected terrorists to acquire weapons.

In addition, there is a White House petition circulating the web calling for a ban specifically on the AR-15. If successful, the White House would be obligated to respond, and if approved, it would send the petition and idea to specific policymakers. There are a slew of similar petitions all over the internet.

Even though some are ardently willing to fight an assault weapons ban, and even though it would not necessarily prove an all-out solution to gun violence (this is something that, at this rate, will require years of culture change), it is at least worth a discussion. Even today, gun control legislation of any variety has faced nothing but sheer obstruction. In order to make positive changes, America must open itself to the discussion. Not every idea will prove successful, but if the conversation is continually dismissed, this violence will only proceed at an accelerated rate.

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