Semi-Automatic Rifles Make Active Shooting Incidents Deadlier, Study Finds - NBC10 Boston
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Semi-Automatic Rifles Make Active Shooting Incidents Deadlier, Study Finds

"Active shooters are hell-bent on killing people," the study's lead researcher said. "The big difference — and this is not such a big surprise — is if you give them a semi-automatic, they're able to shoot twice the number of people."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Semi-Automatic Rifles Make Active Shooting Incidents Deadlier, Study Finds
    Keith Srakocic/AP
    This March 1, 2018, file photo shows a display of various models of semi-automatic rifles at a store in Pennsylvania. Research published Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows active shooters with semi-automatic rifles wound and kill twice as many people as those using non-automatic weapons.

    What to Know

    • Recent shooting involving semi-automatics include Parkland High School, Orlando's Pulse night club and Sandy Hook Elementary School

    • Semi-automatic rifles automatically load each bullet after firing, although firing requires pulling the trigger for each round

    • The nearly 250 U.S. active shooter incidents reviewed in the study left 900 people wounded and 718 dead

    Active shooters with semi-automatic rifles wound and kill twice as many people as those using non-automatic weapons, although chances of dying if hit in either type of assault are the same, a new analysis shows.

    Researchers examined FBI data on nearly 250 active shooter incidents in the United States since 2000. Almost 900 people were wounded and 718 were killed.

    One in four of these attacks involved semi-automatic rifles. These weapons automatically load each bullet after firing although firing requires pulling the trigger for each round.

    Recent attacks involving semi-automatics include the shootings at Parkland High School, Orlando's Pulse night club and Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    Assault Rifles Explained: What They Are and How They're Used

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    In the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, there has been a national conversation about banning assault rifles. But what defines an assault rifle is up for debate. Here is everything you need to know about assault rifles.

    (Published Friday, April 6, 2018)

    Semi-automatics, which include some assault weapons, often are thought of as being more lethal. Since they can fire rapidly, chances of being hit in those circumstances are high, the study shows.

    But in active shooter attacks, which tend to occur in confined spaces and with an intent to kill, the results suggest all types of guns can be equally deadly, said lead researcher Dr. Adil Haider, a trauma surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

    Overall, 44 percent of people hit in active shooter attacks involving semi-automatic weapons died, the same as those wounded in non-automatic weapon attacks, showing that "the death rate if you got hit by a bullet was the same," Haider said.

    "Active shooters are hell-bent on killing people," he said. "The big difference — and this is not such a big surprise — is if you give them a semi-automatic, they're able to shoot twice the number of people."

    The average number of people wounded in semi-automatic attacks totaled nearly six, versus about three in attacks with a non-automatic weapon. Roughly four people were killed on average in semi-automatic attacks, compared with about two in other attacks, the study found.

    The results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    Dick’s Sporting Goods to Discontinue Sales of Assault-Style Rifles

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    Saying that “thoughts and prayers are not enough” following the Parkland shooting, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced the company will discontinue sales of all assault-style rifles and will raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21. The company will also end sales of high-capacity magazines.

    (Published Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018)

    Haider said the study highlights a need to better track details on types of weapons used in active shooter attacks; FBI figures do not detail whether weapons used were semi-automatic so the researchers got that information from court and police documents and news media reports.

    Semi-automatic rifles cause more deaths and injuries, but "firearms in general, regardless of the type, are extraordinarily lethal weapons," said Dr. Cassandra Crifasi, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, who was not involved in the research.

    A longtime gun owner and sports shooting enthusiast, Crifasi said her understanding of gun culture brings a different perspective to gun research and safety. "The main thing is that there are gun owners like me ... who support common sense solutions to reducing gun violence," she said.