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An AR-15 style rifle is a lightweight semi-automatic rifle based on the ArmaLite AR-15 design. ArmaLite sold the patent and trademarks to Colt's Manufacturing Company in 1959. After Colt's patents expired in 1977, Colt retained the trademark and is the exclusive owner of "AR-15" designation.
an expanded marketplace emerged with many manufacturers producing their own version of the AR-15 design for commercial sale. They are referred to as modern sporting rifles by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade association, and by some manufacturers. Coverage of high-profile incidents where various versions of the rifle were involved often uses the shorthand AR-15.AR-15 style rifles have become one of the "most beloved and most vilified rifles" in the United States, according to the New York Times. The rifle has been promoted as "America's rifle" by the National Rifle Association. They have been used in several mass shootings in the United States. The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act restricted the Colt AR-15 and derivatives from 1994-2004, although it did not affect rifles with fewer features.

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