US gun owners are destroying their rifles in response to the Florida school mass shooting which claimed 17 lives.
Gun owner Scott-Dani Pappalardo, who has a tattoo of the Second Amendment honouring Americans’ rights to bear arms, inspired the #OneLess campaign with an impassioned anti-gun speech which has been viewed by more than 17 million people.
The New Yorker, who legally purchased and registered the AR-15 assault rifle 30 years ago, said the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy had changed his mind about gun control.
Mr Pappalardo’s powerful video, in which he uses an angle grinder to saw his weapon in half, has now encouraged others to do the same.
“I remember after Sandy Hook happened I said to my wife ‘I’d gladly give this gun up if it would save the life of just one child.’ That’s five years ago now and since then over 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings.
Mr Pappalardo explained he could have sold the rifle for around $800 (£600), but admitted he “couldn’t live with himself” knowing his gun could one day be used to commit a horrific act.
“I’ve decided I’m going to make sure this weapon is never capable of taking a life, the barrel of this gun will never be pointed at someone,” he continued.
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“Is the right to own this weapon more important than someone’s life? A weapon like this that can cause so much death and destruction.
“Look at the picture of those victims – is that right more important? I don’t think so. I’m going to make sure that will never happen with my weapon.
“For all you haters out there, who think I’m very stupid for doing this. I hope and I pray it doesn’t take the barrel of one of these guns pointed at your child’s head to change your mind.”
Other US gun owners have joined the campaign by sharing videos and images of their dismantled weapons in response to the massacre.
#oneless I agree with Mr. Pappalardo. I, too, enjoy owning guns, and am a legal gun owner, but I also could not live with myself if my weapon was used to injure or kill an innocent. This is my ex-boomstick after I had at it with a grinder saw. pic.twitter.com/5PY8YjPiqu
— Deb Lentz (@Momin8tr) February 20, 2018
"The only way that I can know for sure that this gun will never hurt anyone is if it doesn't exist."
Connecticut resident Amanda Meyer is the latest gun owner to destroy her weapon in support of the "one less gun" movement in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Florida. pic.twitter.com/o49ePCKq5q
— ABC News (@ABC) February 20, 2018
Suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz is alleged to have walked into the Parkland high school wearing a gas mask and carrying smoke grenades before opening fire on students and staff with an AR-15 assault rifle.
The troubled 19-year-old, who had been expelled from the school, was able to legally purchase at least seven long guns despite a documented history of mental health issues.
It is the 18th school shooting in the US in 2018 and the third deadliest in American history, once again reigniting the debate on gun control laws.
The AR-15, a semi-automatic civilian version of the US military’s standard-issue M16, is known as “America’s most popular rifle”, with more than five million in circulation around the country.
Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 at a country music festival in October after opening fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel was in possession of an AR-15 when police stormed his room.
The weapon was also used by Devin Patrick Kelley, who shot and killed 26 in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5.
The scale of US mass shootings in 2017
Meanwhile, teenage survivors of the shooting are organising a nationwide ‘March for Our Lives’ campaign next month calling for an end to gun violence and mass shootings in US schools.
Survivors of the shooting have also started a Never Again campaign, in a bid to push lawmakers to take action to stop gun violence.