An AR-15 style rifle is any lightweight semi-automatic rifle based on the Colt AR-15 design.
The original Armalite AR-15 is a scaled-down derivative of Eugene Stoner's AR-10 design. The then Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation division ArmaLite sold the patent and trademarks to Colt's Manufacturing Company in 1959. After most of Colt's patents for the Colt AR-15 expired in 1977, many firearm manufacturers began to produce copies of the Colt AR-15 under various names. Despite the patents expiring, Colt retained the trademark of the AR-15 and is the sole manufacturer able to label their firearms as AR-15.The Federal Assault Weapons Ban restricted the sale of the Colt AR-15 and some derivatives in the United States from 1994 to 2004, although it did not affect rifles with fewer listed features.After the term modern sporting rifles was coined in 2009 by the US National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms trade association, it was quickly adopted by much of the industry.In the 2010s, AR-15 style rifles became one of the "most beloved and most vilified rifles" in the United States, according to The New York Times. The rifles are controversial in part due to their use in high-profile mass shootings. Promoted as "America's rifle" by the National Rifle Association, AR-15 style rifles' popularity is partially attributable to proposals to ban or restrict them.

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