Factbox: Profile of weapon used in Connecticut massacre

Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:42pm EST

A combination of 12 handout pictures shows 12 of 20 young schoolchildren killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14 in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. REUTERS/Handout

A combination of 12 handout pictures shows 12 of 20 young schoolchildren killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14 in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.

Credit: Reuters/Handout

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(Reuters) - Connecticut shooter Adam Lanza used a weapon in the Bushmaster AR-15 family to shoot all of his victims at a school in a rampage that killed 20 young children and six staff members on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut, police said. He then used a handgun to kill himself.

Some facts about Bushmaster AR-15 assault weapons:

* An automatic version of the weapon is used by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and some police forces in the United States. The M-16 is the rifle version of the military weapon, and the M-4 is the carbine, a weapon with a shorter barrel.

* A similar civilian model was used in 2002 by the Washington-area snipers John Allen Muhammad and John Lee Malvo, who shot randomly at victims during a three-week spree that killed 10 people.

* The weapon is highly modular, meaning a user can change the barrel, the stock, the magazine and other features, easily changing a weapon's characteristics such as weight, capacity, range and accuracy.

* The AR in "AR-15" rifle stands for ArmaLite, the company that developed it in the 1950s, and not for "assault rifle" or "automatic rifle, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

* Capacity: 30 rounds in a standard military magazine.

* Suggested retail price of the Bushmaster .223 caliber M4 carbine: $1,197 to $1,391.

* National retailers selling assault weapons include: Wal-Mart Stores Inc, where it is for sale in a small percentage of stores; Dick's Sporting Goods Inc, and Cabela's Inc.

* Civilian uses: A semi-automatic version of the weapon is popular in competitions and firing ranges. Can also be used for hunting.

* Connecticut law: The state requires rifles and shotguns to be registered but requires no permit to purchase them, according to the National Rifle Association's Institute of Legislative Action.

OTHER FACETS

Automatic vs semi-automatic:

Automatic means all multiple rounds can be discharged by keeping a finger on the trigger. Semi-automatic means one bullet per trigger pull.

Carbine vs rifle:

A carbine is a shorter-barreled rifle, making it lighter and easier to handle in tight spaces. That also makes a carbine less accurate for long-range shooting. Both have a grooved barrel that affects the spin that makes it more precise.

Legality:

When the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004, Bushmaster resumed offering previously illegal features on products for the consumer market such as interchangeable flash suppressors, bayonet lugs, collapsing telescopic stocks and high-capacity magazines.

The Bushmaster company:

Founded in 1973, bought by private equity group Cerberus Capital Management in April 2006. Now part of Cerberus' Freedom Group, which also owns Remington.

Bushmaster firearms are used by the military of more than 50 countries, according to its website.

Bushmaster products are typically less expensive than those of Remington and Colt. Bushmaster is the market leaderhas the biggest market share

Headquarters: Madison, North Carolina.

Manufacturing facility: Ilion, New York.

(Reporting by Phil Wahba and Chip East, writing by Phil Wahba, editing by Daniel Trotta and Philip Barbara)

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