The AR-15 Controversy to Ban or Not?

The AR-15 Controversy to Ban or Not?

Martín Di Felice

Coachella Valley Region

"It’s a Colt AR-15, it’s semi automatic and it has a 10 round capacity magazine,"

The AR-15 is the rifle at the center of the gun debate. The most recent school shooter used one to kill 17 people at a Florida high school, and we’ve seen them used in other mass shootings. Many have been asking for the AR-15 to be banned.

Palm Springs City Councilmember Geoff Kors says this is the right thing to do, "If you can’t get your hands on assault weapon whether you’re angry, have mental health issues, under the influence of guns or alcohol or any other reason, you can’t kill mass numbers of people."

California already has the most restrictive gun laws in the country, even bump stocks, the accessory that transforms semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic weapons are banned. After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Kors wrote laws passed by the council that include trigger locks and reporting stolen guns.

But Kors says, there’s only so much that can be done on a local level, "We need congress to be responsible and act about military assault weapons."

Ben Moran, the general manager at Second Amendment Sports, a gun and outdoor superstore in Palm Desert,  says after mass shootings guns fly off the shelves, not this time, "When people come in after a tragedy like that we see a spike in certain sales that really didn’t happen this time, I think there was a big failure in duties of certain agencies and essentially that did no scare people enough that there was going to be a ban on certain fire arms."

He says there’s a lot of misconceptions about the AR-15, and most people base what they think about the rifle from Hollywood movies or tragedies like the recent school shooting, but the rifle is really no different from any other regular rifle except for the way it looks. 

We tested it and it’s true, both feel the same they shoot one round at a time. The AR-15 is a spin off of the M-16 a fully automatic rifle, but it does not spray bullets when you hold down the trigger. In California, you can only buy a 10 round capacity magazine. 

"It’s the same cartridge of ammunition that shoots, and you really have no difference in the action, or the rate of fire or the caliber size," he says adding that the debate should focus on mental health and making sure laws in place are followed, "multiple contacts with that individual made no difference in that person’s ability to buy a fire arm. I believe that somebody in the wrong mental state should not have a firearm."

Moran says in California you cannot go into a gun shop and buy a gun and take it home, there’s a background check and a 10 day cooling off period. He says his staff can also refuse a gun sale to anyone they feel is a danger to themselves or others. 

Both sides are a world apart on some issues, Kors says arming teachers is a bad idea meanwhile Moran says properly trained, armed teachers is an option that should be explored. But both sides do believe something should be done to protect children in schools, and something can be done to keep them safe.