President calls for ban against military-style assault weapons - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

President calls for ban against military-style assault weapons

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President Barack Obama has announced his new gun-control proposals just one month after the Newtown, Conn. shooting that left 20 children dead.

At a White House ceremony on Wednesday, Obama announced he's issuing 23 executive orders.

These orders include measures to encourage schools to hire police officers, as well as requiring federal agencies to make more data available for background checks.

Obama also wants Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

To get a better understanding of the kinds of firearms that would be outlawed, 13 News spoke with two members of the Charleston Police Department who are experts on weapons.

When asked what the true definition of an assault weapon is, Lt. Eric Johnson said, "A true assault weapon is a fully automatic weapon. And that applies to your M-16 style weapons."

These fully-automatic weapons have been heavily regulated since 1934. Getting a permit to buy a gun like this is also extremely difficult.

"You have to apply for a stamp through the ATF and that gets into a whole other can of worms. You're subjecting yourself to background checks and a whole bunch of other stringent things to be able to carry and handle that weapon," said Cpl. Jamie Wilson.

However, military-style assault weapons, as defined by current law, haven't been regulated since 2004.

An AR-15 is an example of a military-style assault weapon and one that will be banned if Congress moves forward with Obama's proposals.

Some characteristics of a military-style assault weapon include a detachable magazine. Some people argue that this makes them more dangerous and easily loadable than other guns.  Other characteristics include a folding or telescoping stock, bayonet mount, and pistol grip.

Under the possible new law, a gun would be banned if it had at least one of these additional features to it.

High capacity magazines will also become illegal if a new law is passed.  These include magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. 

However, the restrictions do not address how many magazines one person would be able to own.  In theory, if you're done shooting a 10 round magazine, you can load another 10 round magazine and continue shooting.

"Once I'm out of ammunition, in either weapon, I can reload and quickly go to another magazine and continue to fire," Johnson said.

The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004.