(CNN) – Sgt. John Chipman, a firearms expert with Marion police department, showed us the basics of the AR-15. He said, “This is a AR-15 platform. It’s a semiautomatic weapon. That means it fires one bullet cartridge per pull of the trigger.”
A few years ago the department issued AR-15 to all officers.
Sgt. Chipman said, “In the world we live in today, a pistol may not be enough to meet the engagement you’re going to encounter.”
In Iowa, the AR can hold 30.223 cartridges per magazine. Larger cartridges are illegal in the state. They’re tiny, leaving smaller bullet holes than a 9mm handgun. But, they’re faster.
Sgt. Chipman said, “It has a lot more power, a lot more muzzle velocity. Certainly, a longer range.” According to the sergeant, his weapon has a max effective range of 550 meters. A glock handgun, is around 50. Because it’s semi-auto, the rate of fire depends on how fast the trigger is pulled.
A manual for a similar AR says the effective max is 45 rounds per minute. Sgt. Chipman demonstrated.
This gun, as it sits, is completely legal to own with a clean criminal record. The AR overall has become one of, if not, the, most popular rifle in the U.S. At Cedar Valley Outfitters, it’s a top seller. One of the reasons, it’s affordable.
Ernie Traugh, Cedar Valley Outfitters said, “You can buy a very good quality AR platform rifle starting at like $650.” And it doesn’t take long to get one. Ernie says about 15 minutes to fill out paperwork and get an FBI background check.
Traugh said, “You can pay for it and take it home. People say it’s simple. It is simple if you are a law abiding citizen.”
The AR’s notoriety has grown over the years. Critics call it too powerful for the public and point to its use in mass shootings like San Bernardino and Sandy Hook. However, back at the range, Chipman, a second amendment advocate sees guns as tools. He says they’re always dangerous in trained hands with ill intent, regardless of the type. “The shooter in Orlando could have had a shotgun and a revolver and still committed as much carnage and atrocity as he did.”