AFTER EACH NEW mass shooting in the United States, media coverage almost invariably reports that the gunman used an “AR-15 style rifle”—one of the cheap and abundant descendants of the ArmaLite AR-15, a weapon originally designed for military use. This emphasizes the repetitiveness of the violence: All of these people are dead because of a single type of product we refuse to ban.
But if the problem is pervasive, it’s also specific. Each of those guns is out there because particular, identifiable companies and people have made it and marketed it.
So, for the sake of clarity, here’s what we know about the weapon used in the shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis, Missouri, where a teenager reportedly killed two people and injured seven more on Oct. 24 before police fatally shot him. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department referred to the weapon as an “AR-15 style rifle” in their press conference, but they also released photographs of it:
Zooming in on the rifle reveals that it is a PA-15 manufactured by the Palmetto State Armory. Redditors have proposed tentative identifications of the exact model, but it is difficult to be sure, because PSA sells so many different varieties of the PA-15, ranging from kits you assemble at home to fully built weapons. They are currently having a Halloween sale, which means you can buy an assembled PA-15 for as little as $479, shipping included.
Palmetto State Armory was founded in 2008 by Jamin McCallum, who says his company “came of age during the Obama administration—there was a really high threat that we could lose our Second Amendment rights then.” McCallum explicitly says his company’s reason for existing is to make gun control impossible:
I hope we spread the maximum amount of freedom. I hope in 30 years, people look back and say “We tried to pass gun control,” or “We did pass gun control”—but it wasn’t very effective because this company—this pesky company—made 20 million ARs, 30 million, whatever—they got them into circulation. And now the regulations that we put into effect have little effect because there’s so many of it out there already.”
In the interest of spreading the maximum amount of freedom, the company’s core principle is to “sell as many guns to as many law-abiding Americans as possible.” Its mission statement elaborates:
We want to sell as many AR-15 and AK-47 rifles as we can and put them into common use in America today. Our focus isn’t to make massive amounts of money but to spread freedom as far and wide as possible. Our legacy will not be about money. We want our legacy to be about maximizing American freedom and we will work every day to do just that.
At press time, Palmetto State Armory and the company that owns it, JJE Capital Holdings, did not respond to messages left with them asking for comment.