Dec 20, 2012 6:37 PM by Erin Steuber

Do Semi-Automatic Rifles Belong Outside Law Enforcement and the Military?

Gun control, a hot topic across the nation following the massacre in Newtown. The gunman, Adam Lanza, carried a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns. But do any of these weapons belong outside law enforcement and the military? And how hard is is to learn how to use these weapons?

Mark LeBlanc, a career police officer, is now the director of operations at Barney's Indoor Gun Range. He says one of the primary uses for semi-automatic rifles, like the model Lanza used, is by farmers, ranchers and vast land owners to protect their property from wild animals.

"A high power rifle takes care of the job without any risk of hitting anything other than the intended target," said LeBlanc. "And again, like I said, being able to have ten round, or more, would allow them to be able to eradicate a pack of animals."

The Bushmaster AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 used by the US military. Unlike the military version, this semi-automatic weapon only shoots one bullet per squeeze of the trigger. But both weapons are loaded through a magazine that can hold up to thirty rounds. LeBlanc says a lot of preparation goes into using one of these weapons.

"You have to place each individual round into the magazine, the more rounds you place into the magazine, the more time it takes," said LeBlanc.

But how hard is it to learn how to use, and load, one of these guns?

LeBlanc showed me. It took all of 30 seconds. After only one lesson, I was able to load, and get ready to shoot, a rifle in less than 3 seconds. And in less than 2 seconds, I was able to load a semi-automatic handgun.

Currently there are no restrictions on the number of guns you can own, and how much ammunition you can buy at one time.

In case you didn't know:

Guns are either semi-automatic, or automatic. Semi-automatic guns fire one shot, for each squeeze of the trigger.
Automatic weapons don't stop firing until the trigger is released, or the magazine is empty. Automatic weapons are sold, legally, only to law enforcement and military personnel.

Interesting fact:

If you are buying pieces of a gun, in an effort to build your own the same laws, and restrictions apply.

"Any component that is serial numbered, by ATF law, a fundamental component of the weapon is a weapon. And to obtain that component, whether it has any internal pieces or not, still has to undergo the same checks, the same regulations, the same paperwork, as buying a completely assembled, ready to operate firearm," said LeBlanc.



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