Speed Reads

Gun Violence

The man who invented the AR-15 never imagined it would end up in civilians' hands

The family of the man who invented the AR-15 assault rifle has spoken out to say the weapon was never intended to be in civilians' hands. "Our father, Eugene Stoner, designed the AR-15 and subsequent M-16 as a military weapon to give our soldiers an advantage over the AK-47. He died long before any mass shootings occurred. But, we do think he would have been horrified and sickened as anyone, if not more by these events," the family told NBC News.

While the National Rifle Association has dubbed the AR-15 "America's rifle," the weapon has also been the gun of choice for mass shooters, including the killer in the Orlando nightclub. It was also used in the massacres in Newtown, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado, and San Bernardino, California.

Eugene Stoner was focused on creating a military rifle with the AR-15; although he was an avid "sportsman, hunter, and skeet shooter," he never even owned an AR-15, much less kept one around for hunting or personal defense, the family said. Only after his death in 1997 and the expiration of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004 did the gun become popular with civilians.

While the members of the Stoner family wanted to be kept anonymous, you can learn more about the AR-15, below. Jeva Lange