Manufacturers of the powerful and politically vilified AR-15 rifles are defending their weapons in the aftermath of a deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.
"I think a gun's a gun," said Daniel Bogdan, a media official and graphic designer at gun maker Yankee Hill Machine. "It could be a pistol, it could be an AR-15."
"Maybe you can fire more rounds with an AR-15 versus just a pistol," Bogdan said, but "AR-15s shouldn't technically be criticized more than any other gun."
On Wednesday, a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School opened fire on the school's campus, killing 17 people and injuring at least 14 more, authorities said.
The gunman used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said at a news conference.
Proponents of gun control have long argued that such rifles have no use in hunting and are unnecessarily powerful as home defense weapons.
"An AR-15 is not for hunting, it's for killing," Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson in an interview on Thursday morning on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends."
But rifle makers strongly dispute that claim.
"It's how people use it," said Kit Cope, marketing director at Spike's Tactical, a Florida-based gun manufacturer. "It's also a great hunting weapon, home defense weapon and a great sporting rifle."
The AR-15, which the National Rifle Association describes as "America's Rifle," has been used as the primary weapon in a number of highly publicized mass shootings in recent years. The shooter at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012 killed 12 and injured 70 using Smith & Wesson's version of an AR-15. And the 2012 massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut used a Bushmaster XM15 rifle, which is functionally and aesthetically similar to the AR-15.