AR-15 purchases easy for most Metro residents

Passing a background check all it takes

CLAYCOMO, Mo. — Target practice is a routine event at Show Me Shooters Indoor range in Claycomo.

People generally shoot pistols like a 9 millimeter. The range wasn't built to handle more powerful weapons like the AR-15.

"They will go over a mile and still have enough energy to penetrate the human body," Don Pind of Show Me Shooters said.

Pind says bullets from handguns travel less than 2,000 feet per second. Bullets shot from an AR-15 can travel as fast 3,300 feet per second.

Not far from the range, a wide variety of AR-15s are for sale.

Seven states and Washington D.C. have banned or restricted the weapons, but not Kansas or Missouri.

To buy one, you fill out a form called a 4473 which would be used to buy any other gun or rifle for sale in the store.

That form is then sent to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for a background check.

Those checks can be approved on the spot or can take up to three business days.

"You probably get 70 to 75 percent of the people go through immediately," Pind said.

A federal law from 1994 to 2004 banned the AR-15 as part of an assault weapons ban.

But gun advocates say the AR-15 should not be characterized as an assault rifle because it's semi-automatic.

A semi-automatic rifle fires a single shot each time the trigger is pulled.

A fully automatic rifle shoots continuously as long as the trigger is pulled.

Several studies have been done to check the effectiveness of that 1994 to 2004 ban.

Factcheck.org characterizes the ban's effectiveness as mixed based on those studies.

The studies mostly found the ban didn't affect overall gun violence.

The Columbine shooting in Colorado, for example, happened during the shooting ban.

But the most recent study also concluded a new ban on large magazines holding lots of bullets and a ban on assault weapons may bring small reductions in some of the most serious mass shootings.

Pind said history shows bans, including the 1994 one, don't work.

"The biggest thing it did was increase the price, it jacks the price up because people think they can't get them," he said.

Pind also believes if someone is going to do something wrong, they're going to do it whether they can get an AR-15 or not.

"You can probably do a lot more damage with a hunting rifle and they only hold five rounds. The velocity and the size of the bullet is so much bigger, they're a lot more devastating. You just can't shoot as much ammunition as fast as the AR-15s," he said.

Multiple attempts to pass a new assault weapons ban have failed in the U.S. Congress.

Most recently, an attempt to make that ban permanent in 2013 failed in the Senate by a 60-40 vote.

Pind said one way to curb gun violence and damage is through mandatory training.

"They won't let you drive an automobile unless you take a test. But yet they're going to give a 19-year-old the right to carry a handgun just because he's 19," he said.

The progressive, non-profit publication Mother Jones showed deaths from mass shootings have spiked in the last 20 plus years from a low of none in 2002 to well over 100 in 2017.

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