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Opinions Differ Over Assault Weapons

Opinions Differ Over Assault Weapons

Posted - Sep. 13, 2004 at 9:01 p.m.



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Samantha Hayes reporting Congress did not extend certain sections of the Gun Control Act. As as result, the ban on so-called assault weapons is not longer in effect.

And that means different things depending on who you talk to.

Vector Arms is a Utah Company that manufactures UZIs, AK-47s and HK variants. And General Manager Rex Merrill says they sell mostly to the public.

Rex Merrill/ General Manager: "I have judges, policemen, doctors, just the average Joe."

Under a section of the 1994 Gun Control Act, Merrill could not sell semi-automatic weapons with certain characteristics:

Rex Merrill: "Collapsable stock, pistol grip, removable magazine, the flash hider. This one doesn't have a grenade attachment, and those are the items."

Now that part of the law has expired and you can buy a weapon with those features, Merrill does not believe that makes the weapon more dangerous.

Rex Merrill: "If you were a criminal and you wanted to use one of these, it didn't make them less dangerous because you could do just as much damage with one of these as one of these."

In fact, some cite federal studies that show less than 2 percent of crimes were committed with assault weapons before the 1994 ban.

But those in favor of gun control say one poll shows 68 percent of Americans supported extending the ban.

Marla Kennedy/ Gun Violence Prevention Center: "It's not a cosmetic bill. It's not a feel good piece of legislation. We are talking about machine guns on our streets."

Marla Kennedy helped organize a nation-wide petition to support the bill.

Marla Kennedy: "We believe with the proliferation of gun violence in the United States that we need to put a restriction on gun ownership and I would certainly think machine guns ought to be that."

The ban has stoked an ongoing argument over gun control and the rights of responsible citizens.

Rex Merrill: "I will admit, these rifles were intended to kill people, made for the military. But people who buy it today, that's not what they buy it for."

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