"Let’s look at the AR-15," Fox News host Laura Ingraham said in an on-air segment Wednesday afternoon, hours after a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left at least 17 people dead. "What makes it so popular," Ingraham added, "and, overwhelmingly, what makes it so safe." The AR-15, an automatic rifle that's easier to buy in Florida than a handgun,` according to the New York Times, was the weapon purchased and used by shooter Nikolas Cruz. Bustle has reached out to Fox News for comment.
ThinkProgress' Judd Legum was the first to report on the AR-15 segment, which Legum noted aired on Fox News just hours after an AR-15 was used to kill 17 people. Ingraham had segued to the point about the AR-15 being "so safe" after criticizing gun advocate and senator Chris Murphy, who took to the Senate floor to address lawmakers immediately after the shooting.
"This epidemic of mass slaughter, this scourge of school shooting after school shooting... It only happens here not because of coincidence, not because of bad luck, but as a consequence of our inaction," Murphy told lawmakers. "We are responsible for a level of mass atrocity that happens in this country with zero parallel anywhere else."
"As a parent, it scares me to death that this body doesn't take seriously the safety of my children, and it seems like a lot of parents in South Florida are going to be asking that same question later today," Murphy added.
In response, Ingraham noted: "Didn’t take him long to go right to gun control." (Worth noting: It didn't. Murphy's call for gun control was in direct response to the shooting.)
“Is this a problem with the gun or the shooter?” she continued. She went on to question whether the parents of the gunman were responsible.
"This is a security issue. It’s not a weapon issue," she said. "If you’re not trained, and if you have a criminal disposition — a violent disposition — it can be turned into a killing machine. But Chris Murphy wants to make it all about the weapons."
She also chalked up the Florida shooter's motive to mental illness: "There is a mental health epidemic here, which is being confused for a gun problem," she said.
Ingraham's guest also compared the AR-15 to military-grade weapons like the M4, which is fully automatic and used frequently for military purposes. Guest Aaron Cohen noted: "[The AR-15 is] actually safer because you have a less likelihood of sporadic fire or hitting innocent people."
"So it’s actually a very safe weapon," Cohen said. "It’s easier to shoot than a pistol."
AR-15s have been the weapon of choice for gunmen in several recent shootings. They were used in the Las Vegas Strip shooting — the deadliest U.S. mass shooting to date — and in Newtown, where 20 children and six adults were gunned down and killed.
The AR-15 is described by the NRA as "the most popular gun" in this country, according to USA Today. The organization formally totes the firearm as "customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate," according to the outlet.
One survivor of the shooting, David Hogg, addressed lawmakers directly in a televised CNN interview following the massacre: "Students are dying trying to get an education. That’s not OK. That’s not acceptable.”
He also noted, "Ideas are great, ideas are wonderful and they help you get re-elected and everything, but what’s more important is actual action."