The AR-15: It's Effects on the Body

In the past few years, mass shootings have become increasingly normalized in today’s media. It is often that you hear a brief mention of a new mass shooting, yet for as common as they have tragically become, the actual ramifications these tragedies have to the victims is not explored often enough. The reality is that the use of the AR-15 in these shootings (which is more often than not, due to the versatility of the weapon) increases the death count considerably in comparison to other mass shootings where another gun is used.


The AR-15 began its rise as one of the more popular guns of choice in the Vietnam War, being the predecessor to the militarized version of the weapon, the M-16, much debate sparked around which was superior. The weapon is classified as a high velocity weapon, fitting the prerequisites which according to Beyer include the weapon having a muzzle speed of over 2,500 feet per second. It is also remarkably lightweight, with the shooter being able to carry up to 440 more rounds than an individual carrying an M-14 without increasing the overall weight of the combat equipment. This makes the

handling of the weapon fast and efficient, perfect for use in the war, especially compared to the M-16, which was prone to jamming mid-shot. This debate brought the weapon further into the public eye, particularly when the war ended.


After the war, the weapon was mass produced and sold to the public, with many US citizens

purchasing the gun with ease. The problem of this accessibility begins with the effects the AR-15 can have on one’s body. According to Heather Sher, a radiologist who oversaw treating the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, the AR-15 had caused so much damage that “the organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively.” (Sic. The Atlantic). This she compares to the damage done by a handgun which “…appears as a linear, thin, gray bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.” This shows a distinct difference in the appearance of the gunshot wound, but reading further into the article, you can find that the damage is even more ELEPHANT than just the physical appearance. AR-15 bullets are small and light, making them faster and therefore deadlier, as the speed of the bullet directly correlates to how much damage it will cause. Because of how light the bullet is, it does not simply rip through organs and tissue, it causes a rippling effect throughout the body, not unlike the one that appears where you to drop a rock in a pond. This ripple will kill any tissue it comes into contact with, rendering any medical treatment useless. This effect is so deadly that the surgeons operating on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas kids would open them up, see the damage, and close them back up. The damage this weapon creates means

almost certain death for anyone unfortunate enough to be shot.


The AR-15 is without a doubt, one of the most dangerous guns the public has access to now. It has caused thousands of innocent deaths, all of them destroying families with grief. And these shootings show no sign of stopping. A solution must be brought up to end these senseless deaths, if not for the safety of the future children that will grow up in this country fearing going to school in case their life is cut short, then for the thousands of families ripped apart because of all the senseless death and mayhem that seems to be passing under the radar. The only way to conjure a solution now is to wake up and face the unfortunate truth that brilliant lives have been, and continue, to be lost each and every day due to the people’s ignorance. Wake up, and remind the people in power that we will not continue to

let them push aside these deaths.



Angelina Cotnam, 13

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