As details continue to emerge in the latest mass shooting tragedy at the Washington Navy Yard, authorities have reported the suspected shooter was again armed with one of the nation's most popular and divisive firearms — an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.
The Washington Post reports at least 13 people, including suspected shooter Aaron Alexis, died in this morning's attack on a naval office building in Washington, D.C. Alexis was identified as a 34-year-old military contractor and a motive has not been released.
Authorities recovered an "AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a semiautomatic pistol" from the gunman, The New York Times reports. An official noted Alexis may have taken one or more of the weapons off of a security guard or other victim.
Both beloved and hated, AR-15 rifles symbolize sacred gun rights to some and fine-tuned killing machines to others. In recent years, the AR-15 and its many replicas have become one of the best-selling firearms in the history of the gun industry despite repeated efforts to ban the weapon.
In January, we wrote about the bitter controversy surrounding AR-15 rifles as gun owners and gun control advocates faced off in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting on Dec. 14.
A similar rifle was also used during the Clackamas Shopping Center shooting on Dec. 10 near Portland, Ore., as well as the midnight movie theater shooting last summer in Aurora, Colo., on July 20, 2012.
UPDATE on Sept. 17: Contradicting initial law enforcement reports, federal authorities now believe Alexis attacked the Washington Navy Yard armed primarily with a shotgun. They do not believe he carried an AR-15-style rifle as previously reported.
From The New York Times: