As the gun control debate continues in the wake of the tragic shooting, the assault rifle, in particular, has raised many questions. Our Iris St. Meran spoke with a local gun dealer to learn more about why they are used and how people purchase one.
CHITTENGANGO, N.Y. -- The primary weapon used in last week's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle. It's shown here at Rainbow and Rainbow Gun associates.
Gun dealer Doug Rainbow says although this one in particular looks like an assault rifle, it isn't combat ready because of New York's assault rifle ban enacted in 1994.
Rainbow said, "So, in order to make it New York State compliant, you have to remove the flash suppressor and you have to cut down the bayonet lug so it won't take one. Now it's New York compliant."
According to the law, it is illegal for civilians to possess anything designated as an assault weapon. However, there are exceptions for weapons made before September 13, 1994. Same goes for the size of magazines.
"The magazines, they'll go from 10 to 30,” Rainbow said. “When the magazine was made is the determining factor."
Rainbow says this particular rifle can be used for different purposes. Some enthusiasts like to collect them, because they like military rifles. Others may use it for target practice or to shoot certain animals like a coyote or a woodchuck because it uses a small caliber bullet, a 223.
"It's an effective enough bullet, especially in this area where there's a lot of coyote. It's a very effective gun for that too. You don't want a gun that's going to pass through an animal and still go another mile," said Rainbow.
Anyone looking to purchase a gun must first fill out a NICS background check. Once it's completed, Rainbow will then call the authorities. The FBI will then tell him to proceed, that it's delayed or denied.
The application asks you if you've ever been convicted of a felony, if you're currently a fugitive and if you've ever been committed to a mental institution. Even if a dealer gets the green light, they don't have to sell.
"I've turned people away, I just didn't trust them," said Rainbow.
Dealer Doug Rainbow says his shop has received many calls about the Bushmaster in recent days.