This week a mass shooter purchased his AR-15 rifle just an hour before targeting a health care center, while a debate about gun control had already gripped the U.S. in the wake of the Uvalde massacre in Texas.
According to police, Michael Louis purchased an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle at 2 p.m. Wednesday at an unidentified gun store in the Tulsa, Okla., area. Days before, Louis had also purchased a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol from a local pawn shop.
Louis received back surgery on May 19 and was released from Saint Francis Health System on May 24. During calls and a subsequent May 31 doctor’s visit, Louis complained about the procedure. On Wednesday he called again before heading to hospital armed.
By the time law enforcement was called to the scene at approximately 4:52 p.m. Wednesday, Louis had entered the Natalie Building at the Saint Francis Health System campus and opened fire, killing four people and himself, authorities said. His victims included: 59-year-old Dr. Preston Phillips, 48-year-old Dr. Stephanie Husen, 40-year-old Amanda Glenn and 73-year-old William Love.
Casings from ammunition used in both guns were found at the scene.
According to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, Oklahoma law allows anyone aged at least 21 years old who is not otherwise disqualified from possessing a firearm under state and federal law and who is not carrying the gun in furtherance of a crime, to carry without a permit. Permits are not needed to purchase rifles, shotguns or handguns in the state.
People as young as 18 can also carry without a permit in Oklahoma if they are a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard or were discharged under honorable conditions from the United States Armed Forces, Reserves or National Guard, said the institute.
Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old shooter who murdered 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last month, was able to buy AR-15 guns he used for the shooting in Texas, which also has lenient gun laws. According to the Austin-American Statesman, AR-15 style rifles were used in 11 mass shootings from 2012 to 2018, including the 2012 Aurora, Colo., movie theatre shooting; the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut; the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla.; and the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.
“A few years ago, the family of the inventor of the AR-15 said he would have been horrified to know that its design was being used to slaughter children and other innocent lives instead of being used as a military weapon on the battlefields, as it was designed – that’s what it was designed for,” said President Joe Biden in a speech Thursday evening regarding a rash of recent mass shooting incidents in the U.S.
Armalite, the company that first manufactured the AR-15 in the 1950s, said it was developed as a smaller version of former Marine and former Army Ordnance technician, Eugene Stoner’s AR-10 rifle. Army officials asked Armalite to develop a smaller and lighter version of that rifle, which then became the AR-15.
Biden said AR-15 rifles should be banned in the U.S. through a reinstatement of the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines ban that passed in 1994 and expired in 2004. Nine categories of semi-automatic weapons were included in that ban, including AR-15s.
Oklahoma’s House Democratic Caucus also announced Thursday that it would push for “a series of responsible public-safety measures meant to prevent gun violence,” in the state.
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