"What does an AR-15 do to a human body?" It's not a new headline. Wired had a version of it in 2016; the Atlantic in 2018. In the wake of Monday's shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, the Washington Post is taking its turn, though it answers the question with words and visuals. First the words: As Johns Hopkins Hospital trauma surgeon Joseph Sakran puts it, the bullet from an AR-15 "literally can pulverize bones." During surgery on people who sustain wounds from these bullets, body tissue "literally just crumble[s] into your hands."
But a picture is worth a thousand words, and those images are generally kept from public view, both for confidentiality reasons and due to their graphic nature. In an effort to "illustrate the force of the AR-15 and reveal its catastrophic effects," the Post created a 3D animation showing what happens to a chest when it is struck with a bullet from an AR-15 and from a traditional handgun. In subsequent 3D animations, the Post shows the impact of AR-15 gunshots on two school shooting victims: Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner, 6, and Parkland victim Peter Wang, 15. Those animations were created using autopsy reports, and with the families' consent. The animations, which may be disturbing to some viewers, can be accessed here.
It's just one of a number of pieces the Post published about assault rifles. Additional reading:
- We spent 7 months examining the AR-15’s role in America. Here’s what we learned. One learning relates to who owns AR-15s, and the answer is plenty of people. About 1 in 20 US adults—roughly 16 million people—own at least one, per new polling data from the Post and Ipsos.
- Varmints, soldiers and looming threats: See the ads used to sell the AR-15: The Post reviewed some 400 ads, brochures, social media posts, and other promotional material dating to 1964.
- High-capacity-magazine bans could save lives. Will they hold up in court? As the Post explains, it's a question that could end up at the Supreme Court. Proponents of such bans say they could save lives, as they would require shooters to pause and reload, cutting down the number of bullets fired and opening a window for people to fight back; critics say magazine restrictions are unconstitutional and hamper their self-defense ability.
- Survivors of 2017 Sutherland Springs church massacre endure lifelong disability and trauma left behind by a gunman’s use of an AR-15: 26 people were killed and 22 were injured when the shooter used an Ruger AR-556 rifle to fire 450 bullets in just minutes. The Post looks at the struggles of those who survived. Morgan Workman, now 25, has a body littered with bullet fragments and shrapnel; those bits are leaching lead, causing toxicity symptoms like pain, fatigue, and depression. She's been told she likely won't be able to have children.
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