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The two young men accused of carrying out the massacres in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, followed a familiar path: They legally bought semi-automatic rifles right after turning 18, posted images intended to display their strength and menace — and then turned those weapons on innocent people.

As investigators and researchers determine how the tragedies unfolded, the age of the accused has emerged as a key factor in understanding how two teenagers became driven to acquire such deadly firepower and how it led them to mass shootings.

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