Will an assault weapons ban stop mass shootings? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Will an assault weapons ban stop mass shootings?

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

It is powerful and precise, and like any gun, deadly.

The AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, used mostly for hunting and target shooting, is one of the most popular guns in the United States. In fact, Americans own between 5 and 10 million AR-15 style weapons. And they have once again come under increased scrutiny after a similar style of gun was used in the Orlando night club massacre.

"They're readily available, they're super popular, which means they're going to be the most common firearm out there," says Robin Ball, owner of Sharp Shooting Indoor Range in Spokane. Ball says while the AR-15 and similar style rifles are easy for many people to get their hands on, they're not the problem in mass shootings.

"The issue isn't the gun... The issue is what the person is thinking and what they're going to use it for," Ball says. "It's not the equipment that people are using, it's in their heart and mind."

So will banning these weapons fix the problem? 

No one knows for sure, but Ball says if it's not an AR-15 style gun being used in mass shootings, it will be something else. 

"Unless we got to a point in this country where we were banning everything, you're not going to make a change there because something will be available."

Assault weapons like the AR-15 were banned between 1994 and 2004. Since then, when Congress failed to renew the federal assault weapons ban, sales have increased.

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