The Truth About the Guns Used in the Newtown School Shooting

It’s common, in the aftermath of an event like today’s for the features and capabilities of the firearms used to be wrong or exaggerated. In the hopes of keeping some semblance of factual reporting alive in these FUD-tastic times, I wanted to go over the truth about the weapons used in today’s school shooting . . .

Right now, the only thing we know for sure is that a Glock handgun, a SIG Sauer handgun and a 5.56 caliber Bushmaster rifle (which can only be an AR-15 of some flavor) were used in the shooting. According to latest reports, the AR-15 was the primary weapon used.

The AR-15 platform is currently, as far as anyone can tell, the single most popular model of rifle available in the United States. Easy to use, easy to clean and with low recoil, the rifle is the firearm of choice for everything from competition shooting to varmint and hog hunting. The popularity of the rifle comes not because of its rate of fire or detachable magazines, but instead because the rifle is modular — it is able to be re-configured to meet the end user’s needs without any help from a gunsmith or special tools. This was the first firearm design to be commercially successful that allowed an unskilled end user to reconfigure their firearm without a gunsmith, and the popularity of that design has translated into massive sales every year.

Bushmaster is unofficially the top-selling manufacturer of AR-15 rifles in the United States. The company produces a number of different configurations of AR-15 rifles, dubbed “XM-15″ in their product line, most retailing for between $1,000 and $1,500 and placing them in the middle of the market in terms of pricing. Bushmaster is owned by Freedom Group, which is a large firearms holding group that also owns Remington, Advanced Armament Corp, Barnes, TAPCO and others. A Bushmaster-manufactured rifle was used in the D.C. Beltway Sniper shootings in 2002, and the ensuing court action led them to settle and pay millions of dollars to the families of the victims.

Rifles can be purchased in Connecticut without a permit, given that you wait 14 days between paying and taking the gun home. This requirement can be removed if you’ve taken hunter education or other firearms training classes.

Connecticut has an assault weapons ban. I go into more detail about AWBs and assault weapons in my piece “The Truth About Assault Weapons and Assault Weapons Bans” but the basic idea is that assault weapons bans do not actually reduce the availability of the firearms that they are trying to stop, instead and only inconvenience legal gun owners.

Handguns in Connecticut are more tightly controlled than in almost any other state. In order to purchase one not only do you have to go through the federally mandated background check before buying the gun, but Connecticut also requires their citizens to have a permit to purchase the handgun and take a firearms safety course.

According to latest reports, the guns used in the crime were legally owned and registered to the shooter’s mother — who was found dead earlier today. The shooter, at 20 years old, was not old enough to purchase handguns legally as the minimum age is 21.

Glock handguns are massively popular around the world for military, law enforcement officers and civilian shooters. Available for around $500 each, the firearms are not only robust and reliable but accurate and easy to use. For that reason they’ve been adopted by more police departments and military units than almost any other firearm. They’re also the favorite of competition shooters and those looking to defend their homes and lives.

SIG Sauer is another major handgun manufacturer, with their U.S. offices in Exeter, NH. Their handguns are highly regarded for the precision machining involved in their manufacture and their reliability. However, unlike the Glock line of handguns the SIG Sauer line typically sell for hundreds of dollars more. They have introduced a handgun called the SP2022 that is cheaper than most Glock handguns and sold in many sporting goods stores.

Both of these manufacturers are foreign companies that import their handguns into the United States. Glock handguns are made in Austria, and Sig Sauer are typically made in Germany.

According to the local laws, possession of a firearm is illegal on primary and secondary school premises:

It is unlawful to possess a firearm on public or private elementary or secondary school property.

I’ll keep this post updated as more information becomes available.