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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


Five mass shootings with AR-15-style rifles preceded the Maine mass shooting in 2023.

According to Mother Jones’ database, AR-15-style rifles were used in these mass shootings:

Dollar Store in Jacksonville, Florida, on Aug. 26 (three fatalities).

Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood on July 3 (five fatalities).

Farmington, New Mexico, neighborhood on May 15 (three fatalities).

Shopping mall in Allen, Texas, on May 6 (eight fatalities).

Louisville, Kentucky, bank on April 10 (five fatalities).

The shooting in Lewiston, Maine, occurred Oct. 25. A gunman using a semiautomatic assault rifle-style weapon killed 18 people and wounded 13.

A semiautomatic rifle requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge. The AR-15 is a semiautomatic rifle intended for military use.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, reversed his position and said after the Maine shootings he supports a ban on assault-style rifles. President Joe Biden repeated his call for legislation banning such weapons.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Mother Jones: US Mass Shootings, 1982–2023: Data From Mother Jones’ Investigation

NBC News: At least 18 killed in shootings in Lewiston: What we know so far

U.S. Dept. of Justice: 27 CFR § 478.11

The Trace: What Is an AR-15 Rifle, Exactly?

NBC News: Maine Democrat calls his earlier opposition to an assault weapons ban a mistake after Lewiston shootings

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for Milwaukee Magazine and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.