Las Vegas shooting: Automatic weapons not necessarily illegal

Las Vegas shooting: Automatic weapons not necessarily illegal

While law enforcement in Las Vegas has yet to detail exactly what type of weapons the shooter used from his hotel room window high above a Vegas country music concert, experts quickly agreed they likely included automatic weapons: weapons not necessarily illegal under federal law.

Former federal prosecutor Aaron Wiley says a legal clip or magazine would be limited to 30 rounds. The shooter’s weapons rained down a constant barrage of gunfire an estimated 50 to 100 rounds at a time.

“That would indicate that you have a weapon that is either belt-fed or that has a drum capacity to it,” Wiley said.

After watching and listening to the video, Wiley believes the shooter likely had weapons illegal under federal law. In his estimation, a modern military-style weapon killing dozens and injuring hundreds at a distance of 400 yards

“It’s very unlikely that these weapons were obtained legally,” he said. “In order to do that you have to have shot more than a thousand rounds.”

Federal law does prohibit the possession of newly manufactured so-called Class III machine guns. But, if they were built before May of 1986, they can be lawfully registered, owned and sold. They are regulated under the National Firearms Act.  As of November 2006, ATF records showed more than 391,000 legally registered fully automatic “machine guns.”  The same year the ATF seized more than 1,200 unregistered fully automatic weapons.

The group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, using one of the photographic images from Vegas showing a group of young people running from the gunfire, wrote on social media “It’s not too soon to talk about solutions to gun violence. It’s too late.” Shannon Watts the founder of the group also wrote: "While we grieve for the 50 people shot and killed and the more than 400 who are hospitalized, we must also act in their honor. Gun Violence is preventable.”

State Representative Chris Turner (D) Arlington wrote: “I’m reminded, as we have been in so many previous tragedies, that this country has got to get serious about the epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings which is senselessly ending so many innocent lives.”

Ardent 2nd Amendment supporter State Senator Don Huffines (R) Dallas wrote on his social media pages. “We are praying for the innocent souls lost, and for peace and recovery for the survivors. We’re also saying prayers of thanksgiving for the first responders who ran to assist. Let’s stand together for peace and against evil.”

“Your thoughts and prayers aren’t going to stop the next shooting. Only action and leadership will do that,” former space shuttle commander Mark Kelly said at a Washington, D.C. news conference with his wife Gabrielle Giffords at his side. Giffords survived an assassination attempt by a lone gunman in 2011.

“This must stop. My fellow Americans we don’t have to accept this as normal. It’s not normal. It’s not inevitable. It’s an epidemic that needs to be cured.”

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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