CHICAGO (WLS) --The most powerful of the weapons used in the Orlando shootings is familiar to many on the streets of Chicago, and inflicts wounds far less survivable than the average handgun, according to doctors.
Assault rifles were used in mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif.; Newtown, Conn.; and Aurora, Colo. They are weapons of war that are also sometimes found in the hands of criminals engaged in Chicago's gang wars.
So far in 2016, 96 assault weapons have been confiscated by police. More than 200 were collected in 2015. And there are many more still out there.
Across the country, some gun store are reporting a surge in purchases of assault rifles similar in style to the gun used by the Orlando killer.
"A lot of folks who have experience in the service, when they come out they're familiar with this, how to take it apart, clean it. They're comfortable with it," says gun store owner Fred Flesche.
Inevitably, many legally purchased weapons end up in the hands of criminals. And in the cast of assault rifles, their sheer power puts them on a different level when it comes to killing.
"Bottom line: it's less survivable because it does a lot more damage," says Dr. Faran Bokhari, Stroger Hospital Trauma Department.
Dr. Bokhari estimates 5 to 10 percent of the shooting victims he sees in the ER at Stroger have been shot with high powered assault rifles which can not only carry more bullets, but also have four to five times the impact of a handgun.
"By the time it stops, that 2,500 lbs. is in your body and it's going to do havoc on you organs," Dr. Bokhari says.
In the wake of the Orlando massacre, the Chicago-based American Medical Association is calling on Congress to lift its ban on government-sponsored research into the causes of gun violence.
"The first step is to do scientific-based research into the causes of gun violence so we can understand what's happening and ways to improve it," says Dr. Steven Stack, American Medical Association.
The AMA says many as many people die from gun violence as do from car crashes, and points out government research has helped slow the rate of deaths on the road so why not allow the same for deaths by gun?