Newtown Massacre: What Is a Bushmaster .223?

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On its website, the gun company says that "With a Bushmaster for security and home defense, you can sleep tight knowing that your loved ones are protected. Bushmaster offers everything you need to ensure the safety of you and your family. ... And with their intimidating looks, all Bushmasters make a serious impression. Any gun will make an intruder think. A Bushmaster will make them think twice."

Scott Ostrosky, a local shooting range owner in Connecticut, told ABC News that many of his customers are attracted to the gun because of its similarities to the military weapons, but they're generally responsible people who are just target shooting for fun.

"Yeah, it's fun," he said. "We shoot glass bottles. We shoot up old beer kegs, just garbage items. We get a kick out of shooting... Some people fancy high-dollar golf clubs for their chosen recreation, other people fancy a gun like that for their recreation."

But Brad Garrett said he thought the Bushmaster had "empowered" Lanza. "And once he had decided at some point he was going to commit this mass shooting," said Garrett, "he now has been trained with a piece of equipment that will accomplish that."

Lanza was not the first to take a Bushmaster outside the realm of home defense and recreation and into the bloody pages of a national tragedy.

In 2002 the men known as the Beltway snipers, John Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo, used a Bushmaster .223 to shoot more than a dozen people. In that case, Bushmaster contributed $500,000 to a multi-million-dollar settlement with the victims' families, who claimed the gun manufacturer didn't do as much as it should to keep the guns out of the hands of criminals. Bushmaster said its contribution to the settlement did not amount to an admission of guilt.

Representatives for Bushmaster did not respond to an emailed request for comment for this report.

ABC News' Rich Esposito, Pierre Thomas, Jack Date and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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