As It Happens

This American destroyed his AR-15 after the Florida school shooting — and he's not the only one

"People who don't have a gun or shoot may not understand this, but I did love that weapon," says Scott Pappalardo, the man who sparked the #oneless movement.
Scott Pappalardo of Middletown, N.Y., destroyed his AR-15 in a viral Facebook video on the heels of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla. (Scott Pappalardo/Facebook )
Listen6:05

Story transcript

Scott Pappalardo says sawing his AR-15 in half was the emotional equivalent of "having a sick dog and having to take it to be put down."

The Middletown, N.Y., man is the star of a video posted on Facebook that had been seen more than 26 million times as of Friday afternoon.  

It shows him taking a power saw to the barrel of the AR-15 that he's legally owned for more than 30 years, saying he wants to make sure it will never be used in a massacre like the one that killed 17 students and faculty members at a Parkland, Fla., high school last week.

"The real reason I did it on video, and people who don't have a gun or shoot may not understand this, but I did love that weapon," Pappalardo told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"I needed a higher purpose than to just go in my backyard and do it."

Pappalardo's video has inspired other Americans to follow his lead, posting clips and images of their destroyed firearms on social media with hashtag #oneless.

Among them was Christian Cammas, a 35-year-old Orange County, Calif., man who posted a photo of his disassembled AR-15 rifle on Twitter.

Cammas told Reuters he had mixed feelings while disassembling and ruining parts of the weapon, saying it had been fun to use while boar hunting and range shooting.

"Having the freedom to own a gun like that is not as important as the safety of citizens," he said. 

Amanda Meyer of Connecticut videotaped herself using an angle grinder power tool to cut holes in her handgun, saying that while she grew up around guns and knows how to use them safely, she no longer found it worthwhile to own one.

"I'm probably not the first person to do this and I probably won't be the last. But this is literally the only I way I can think of to just have fewer guns in the world," Meyer says in the clip.

The movement has won praise from many gun-control advocates who see it as a rare concession from gun owners.

Others have scorned the videos as an empty gesture, sometimes countering with an ironic #onemore hashtag that suggests they would be buying another firearm instead.

"I never expected it to be what it became," Pappalardo told As It Happens

A legal gun owner since he was 18, Pappalardo is an ardent supporter of the Second Amendment, and even sports a "right to bear arms" tattoo

"I believe that we do have a right to bear arms, but I believe a responsible right, and I think at this point in time there should be limitations on it," he said.

Response to the video has mostly been positive, he said, adding: "I've certainly got my share of hate. "

"It's kind of opened my eyes up a little bit to how someone's words can really be twisted and how extreme some people can be," he said.

"I never in that video once said to ban the weapons. I never said to repeal the Second Amendment. I said it was personal choice of mine and I also said that it's not the answer — but it was something I felt I needed to do."

— With files from Reuters

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.