After another school shooting — this one at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, leaving at least 21 victims dead — politicians like President Joe Biden are already capitalizing on the tragedy to push their anti-gun agenda. They’ll tell you that the vague category of “assault weapons” has no place in American citizens’ hands, or seize the moment to vilify “the semiautomatic weapons that terrorize us” (as a New York Times essay put it). But these firearms have been accessible for decades — far before school shootings were such an unfortunately common occurrence.

Various versions of the AR-15 are some of the popular firearms most relentlessly targeted by anti-gun lobbyists, with their semiautomatic capability (i.e., the ability to fire multiple rounds without manual reloading, while still requiring the pull of a trigger) blamed for the deadliness of many recent shootings. But Colt sold an AR-15 SP1 Sporter Rifle starting in 1964, 58 years ago.