WaPo Wants to Show You What an AR-15 Does to a Body

It presents 3D animations of real and hypothetical shooting victims
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2023 12:20 PM CDT
Updated Apr 2, 2023 4:35 PM CDT
WaPo Wants You to See What an AR-15 Does to a Body
Metro Nashville Police officers work at the scene near The Covenant School, a private Christian school in Nashville, Tenn., following a deadly shooting Monday, March 27, 2023. A shooter wielding two “assault-style” rifles and a pistol also died after being shot by police.   (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP)

"What does an AR-15 do to a human body?" It's not a new headline. Wired had a version of it in 2016; the Atlantic in 2018. In the wake of Monday's shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, the Washington Post is taking its turn, though it answers the question with words and visuals. First the words: As Johns Hopkins Hospital trauma surgeon Joseph Sakran puts it, the bullet from an AR-15 "literally can pulverize bones." During surgery on people who sustain wounds from these bullets, body tissue "literally just crumble[s] into your hands."

But a picture is worth a thousand words, and those images are generally kept from public view, both for confidentiality reasons and due to their graphic nature. In an effort to "illustrate the force of the AR-15 and reveal its catastrophic effects," the Post created a 3D animation showing what happens to a chest when it is struck with a bullet from an AR-15 and from a traditional handgun. In subsequent 3D animations, the Post shows the impact of AR-15 gunshots on two school shooting victims: Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner, 6, and Parkland victim Peter Wang, 15. Those animations were created using autopsy reports, and with the families' consent. The animations, which may be disturbing to some viewers, can be accessed here.

It's just one of a number of pieces the Post published about assault rifles. Additional reading:

(More Nashville school shooting stories.)

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