ATLANTA - With talk of a proposed assault weapons ban in Washington as well as by some lawmakers at the Georgia State Capitol, WSB’s Sandra Parrish found the term can mean different things to different people.
“In my opinion anything can be an assault weapon, I think it’s anything you can use to assault someone,” says Sarah Hughes, a Junior at the University of Georgia.
Hughes was among a group of student government leaders visiting the Capitol last week. Jonathan Trebble-Greening, a Senior, had a different opinion.
“I guess I think of things like submachine guns... those very flashy and very dangerous guns,” he says.
But 1st Lt. William Carraway, with the Georgia National Guard, says “assault weapons” is not a term used by the military. He says soldiers commonly carry the M4 Carbine, a weapon not typically found outside the military or law enforcement.
“It is the standard firearm you find on the ground, every rifleman has one,” he says.
Tim Downing, with Hi Caliber Firearms store and indoor range in Holly Springs, says people mistakenly associate assault weapons with the fully automatic guns used by the military, but in fact the ones being lumped in a proposed federal ban are actually semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15. It was included in the original federal ban in 1994.
“A lot of your military weapons have fully automatic capability whereas what people are calling assault weapons sold to the general public don’t have fully automatic capability,” he says.
Downing says the difference in price between fully automatic weapons and semi-automatic ones is tremendous. Under federal law, only automatic guns made before 1984 are available for purchase by those with special permits with a starting price of $18,000.
He says an AR-15, on the other hand, is selling for around $1,000.
When asked why someone would want to own such a weapon, Downing says the Second Amendment is the answer.
“Just being able to meet force with reasonable and equal force back and that, in itself, is usually enough to keep the peace,” he says.