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Letter got it wrong

December 30, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

To the Editor,

In the Dec. 23 edition, you printed a letter from Blaise Hogan which included a paragraph about the AR-15 rifle. However, essentially everything he said about the AR-15 is incorrect.

Mr. Hogan states that "an AR-15, by the flip of a switch, becomes a fully automatic machine gun with an effective range of 75 feet that dispenses 20 5.56 mm projectiles in about two seconds." That statement is incorrect on all counts.

The little switch he refers to is called "select-fire" or simply "selector." It does not appear on AR-15's available for civilian use. The first AR-15's were fully automatic rifles that were sold to the military, which renamed them the M-16. AR-15's sold to sportsmen are semi-automatic rifles which fire one round with each squeeze of the trigger.

It has been unlawful since 1934 for civilians to own fully-automatic weapons without a special license from the federal government. In order to legally purchase a machine gun, a civilian must undergo a complete FBI background check and pay a $200 tax when the transfer is made from one registered owner to another. A non-registered weapon cannot be transferred.

No machine guns manufactured after 1986 can be sold to civilians, so the supply of fully-automatic weapons available for civilian purchase is very limited, with prices from about $10,000 to $20,000. Conversion of a semi-automatic rifle to fully-automatic is also illegal unless one has the proper federal license. These conversions can't be sold to civilians.

Lester Shields


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