• Sat. Dec 9th, 2023

    The Controversial Legacy of Richard Dyke: Pioneering the Rise of Assault-Style Rifles

    ByNuala Hafner

    Nov 21, 2023
    The Controversial Legacy of Richard Dyke: Pioneering the Rise of Assault-Style Rifles

    In the wake of the tragic mass shooting that took place in Lewiston, Maine, mourning communities gathered to remember the lives lost and seek solace in prayer. The heart-wrenching event sparked a call for political leaders to address the epidemic of gun violence plaguing the nation. However, little did they know that it was a man celebrated in the same community just months earlier who played a significant role in making assault-style rifles ubiquitous in America.

    Richard E. Dyke, founder of Bushmaster rifles, was hailed as a philanthropist and iconic figure in Maine, known for his rise from poverty to prosperity. However, the tributes failed to acknowledge the human costs associated with the firearms industry that enabled Dyke’s success.

    Dyke transformed the perception of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, previously considered taboo for civilian use, and not only brought it into the market but ensured its longevity. Through strategic business maneuvers and political connections, he turned a failing gun manufacturer into a thriving enterprise that produced thousands of firearms each month. As the nation’s leading seller of AR-15s, Bushmaster became synonymous with gun violence incidents, leading to increased sales after every tragedy.

    Dyke capitalized on the very incidents that shocked the nation. Whenever a mass shooter used a Bushmaster rifle, sales spiked. The tragic shootings in locations like Washington, D.C., Newtown, and Buffalo served as marketing opportunities rather than catalysts for introspection and change. The gun industry thrived on fear and profited from it, with Dyke’s company skillfully navigating the realms of politics, finance, and culture to shield itself from accountability.

    The story of Richard Dyke and the rise of assault-style rifles highlights the complicity of numerous institutions in perpetuating the popularity of these firearms. Banks financed their production, Wall Street invested in the industry, and entertainment media glamorized their use. Congress even protected gun manufacturers from liability for shootings.

    Today, AR-15s have flooded the market, with over 24 million in circulation. While they are responsible for a relatively small percentage of homicides, they have tragically become the weapon of choice for mass shooters. These rifles, both idolized and demonized, serve as a powerful symbol representing defiance and polarization in American society.


    Q: Who is Richard Dyke?
    A: Richard Dyke was the founder of Bushmaster rifles and played a significant role in making assault-style rifles common in America.

    Q: What is the controversy surrounding Richard Dyke?
    A: Despite being celebrated as a philanthropist, Dyke’s success was built on the human costs associated with the firearms industry. He capitalized on the tragedy caused by mass shootings, using them to increase sales of his Bushmaster rifles.

    Q: How did assault-style rifles become popular in America?
    A: Dyke and his team strategically tapped into Americans’ fears, utilizing political connections and business acumen to make AR-15s ubiquitous. Institutions like banks, Wall Street, and entertainment media also played a role in popularizing these firearms.

    Q: How many AR-15s are in circulation today?
    A: There are currently more than 24 million AR-15s in circulation.

    Q: What role do AR-15s play in gun violence incidents?
    A: While they account for a small percentage of homicides, AR-15s are often the weapon of choice for mass shooters, making them a focal point in discussions on gun control and public safety.