Terror on Repeat: A rare look at the devastation caused by AR-15 shootings

Silvia Foster-Frau, N. Kirkpatrick, and Arelis R. Hernández, The Washington Post, Terror on Repeat: A rare look at the devastation caused by AR-15 shootings, Thursday, 16 November 2023: “Mass shootings involving AR-15s have become a recurring American nightmare. The weapon, easy to operate and widely available, is now used more than any other in the country’s deadliest mass killings. Fired by the dozens or hundreds in rapid succession, bullets from AR-15s have blasted through classroom doors and walls. They have shredded theater seats and splintered wooden church pews. They have mangled human bodies and, in a matter of seconds, shattered the lives of people attending a concert, shopping on a Saturday afternoon, going out with friends and family, working in their offices and worshiping at church and synagogue. They have killed first-graders, teenagers, mothers, fathers and grandparents. But the full effects of the AR-15’s destructive force are rarely seen in public. The impact is often shielded by laws and court rulings that keep crime scene photos and records secret. Journalists do not typically have access to the sites of shootings to document them. Even when photographs are available, news organizations generally do not publish them, out of concern about potentially dehumanizing victims or retraumatizing their families. Now, drawing on an extensive review of photographs, videos and police investigative files from 11 mass killings between 2012 and 2023, The Washington Post is publishing the most comprehensive account to date of the repeating pattern of destruction wrought by the AR-15 — a weapon that was originally designed for military combat but has in recent years become one of the best-selling firearms on the U.S. market. This piece includes never-before-released pictures taken by law enforcement officials after shootings inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex., in 2022, and the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., in 2017, that were obtained by The Post. It is also based on Post interviews with survivors and first responders from multiple shootings as well as transcripts of official testimony provided by law enforcement officials who were among the first to witness the carnage. Read a note here from the executive editor about how The Post decided what to publish and why. The review lays bare how the AR-15, a weapon that has soared in popularity over the past two decades as a beloved tool for hunting, target practice and self-defense, has also given assailants the power to instantly turn everyday American gathering places into zones of gruesome violence. This is an oral history told in three parts that follows the chronological order of a typical AR-15 mass shooting. It weaves together pictures, videos and the recollections of people who endured different tragedies but have similar stories to tell.”