Florida shooting: Man with Second Amendment tattoo destroys his AR-15 rifle in online video - 'It's a gun like this that takes away lives'
Scott Pappalardo said he said he could not live with the idea the child of its next owner might get hold of it and use it to hurt others.
So in a five-minute clip posted to Facebook he used a circular saw to slice the weapon into pieces.
The post has been shared hundreds of thousands of times, and the video has been watched some 15 million times.
In it, Mr Pappalardo said he was a supporter of the Second Amendment, which protects Americans’ right to bear arms, and even had a tattoo of it.
He said: “A lot of people have said to me, ‘Well, what do you need to own a weapon like that for? Its only purpose is to kill’.
“And I’ll be honest, it’s a lot of fun to shoot. I’m not a hunter, I’ve never killed anything with it except a bunch of targets.
“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. So I guess my words were just empty words in the spur of the moment.
“Now, here we are, 17 more lives lost, so when do we change? When do we make laws that say maybe a weapon like this isn’t acceptable in today’s society?
“And there’s a lot of blame people can put on desensitising with video games and the internet, bad parenting, mental illness, but ultimately it’s a gun like this one that takes away the lives.”
Mr Pappalardo posted the video three days after a gunman used an AR-15 to kill 14 students and three members of staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Nikolas Cruz, 19, has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and police said he had confessed to being the shooter.
The AR-15 is the semi-automatic, commercial version of the M-16 assault rifle. It lacks the fully-automatic or burst firing options of its military cousins but can be modified to fire faster with a so-called “bump stock”, as in the Las Vegas massacre last October.
Mr Pappalardo said he had owned his weapon – and his tattoo – for more than 30 years. In a separate post he said he still supported the Second Amendment but also that the US needed to introduce “much tougher gun laws”.
Of the destruction of his rifle, he said: ”I know a lot of people are going to say I’m stupid for doing that, but this was a personal choice. I can’t live knowing that my gun’s out there and it can one day possibly commit a horrific act like the other day in Florida.”
On Monday the White House said Donald Trump had expressed his support for efforts to improve the federal background check system for gun purchases.
The US President met Republican senator John Cornyn to discuss bipartisan legislation the Texan was developing, alongside Democrat Chris Murphy, to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks.
Another gun owner, Ben Dickmann of Florida, handed in his own AR-57 rifle to Broward County sheriffs following the Parkland massacre.
He said: ”I will be the change I want to see in this world. If our lawmakers will continue to close their eyes and open their wallets, I will lead by example. No one without a law enforcement badge needs this rifle.”
The AR-57, or AR-Five Seven, is an AR-15 variant that carries 50 rounds in a magazine fitted to the gun’s upper portion.