But Christian Heyne, legislative director at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said the same things that make AR-style rifles popular for competition shooters are what make it an effective military weapon and so deadly in mass shooting situations.
“These are tactical modifications that make these weapons a hell of a lot more lethal,” he said. “That is why you see them be effective at doing exactly what they were designed to do, which is to shoot a lot of ammunition in a small area while remaining accurate.”
Pistol grips and the ease with which AR-style rifles can be modified with features such as barrel shrouds and folding stocks make the gun more dangerous than a typical rifle and contribute to higher death tolls in mass shootings, Heyne said.
Heyne said the AR-15 differs from other semi-automatic rifles because its highly customizable, though he believes weapons such as the AK-47 are also problematic. His organization is in favor of limiting access to the guns.
“It’s important to look at the practical characteristics of the assault weapon that makes it deadly and classify that as an assault weapon,” he said. “It’s our position that we don’t need to ban them outright and we’re certainly not asking for these guns to be confiscated. What we’re talking about is classifying them the way that we classify automatic weapons, as class III weapons, with a host of other regulations.”