HOUSTON—One of the weapons that police said James Holmes used in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre was banned in the U.S. for ten years. But it’s legal to buy today, and that is firing up the nation’s gun control debate once gain.
Along with two handguns and a shotgun, Holmes allegedly used a military-style AR-15 assault rifle.
“It’s based off the M-16 which was invented for our soldiers at war,” said Kathleen James of The Arms Room gun store and range in League City.
The civilian version is semi-automatic, meaning one shot per trigger pull, but the AR-15 can carry a high-density magazine with more than 30 rounds in it.
Initial reports indicate James Holmes bought his AR-15 legally in May or June, but as long as you pass an FBI background check, the process could take as little as an hour.
“You could walk out of here today with it.” Kathleen James said.
That wasn’t the case from 1994 to 2004 under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, a part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.
Some politicians, like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, say it’s time to revisit the gun-control debate.
“The bottom line is if we had fewer guns we’d have fewer murders and look, there is no other developed country in the world that has as many guns as they have people,” Bloomberg told CBS News.
Back at the Arms Room, the take on the movie theater massacre is clear.
“What happened in this particular case has nothing to do with the gun,” said gun owner Michelle Lonergan.
“Guns are going to get the bad rap, but it’s the individual that did it,” added Travis James of the Arms Room.
The federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004 under a sunset clause in that law. Studies by both pro and anti-gun groups showed conflicting results on whether it helped to reduce violent crime.