SPECIAL REPORT: Facts about Firearms - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

SPECIAL REPORT: Facts about Firearms

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(WTVM) -

A string of mass shootings has recently hit our country, leaving dozens of people dead and the United States divided.

On one side of the hot debate are gun advocates who are fighting for their right to bear arms.

On the other side are people who want some weapons certain weapons off the streets.

There seems to be more questions than answers in the midst of this battle that even has our government going back and forth,

Many people are arguing over an issue without being armed with the proper knowledge.

So News Leader 9's Chandi Lowry went straight to the experts to answer questions like what is a semi-automatic weapon and how much damage do they cause?

Captain Curtis Lockette with the Muscogee County Marshal's Office breaks down the difference between a semi-automatic pistol and a revolver.

"Of course the revolver is simply that because you have a cylinder and it holds usually five to six rounds or less depending on the caliber and you load your ammunition into the cylinder and close the cylinder," said Captain Lockette.  

The guns causing the most controversy are rifles.

The AR-15 is one of the most common semi-automatic rifles and it could be banned in several states all across the country.

Jon McMullen at Shooters explained this is the same style of weapon and bullets used in recent mass shootings like the Colorado movie theatre massacre.

McMullen said because it's a semi-automatic rifle, a bullet loads automatically and is ready to fire but you have to pull the trigger each time you want a bullet to release.

McMullen said people confuse this weapon with an automatic weapon or machine gun.

"An automatic, a machine gun one pull of the trigger results in multiple bullets going down the range, semi-automatic results in one round being fired," McMullen explained.

McMullen also said that the damage comes from what kind of bullets a person uses, not necessarily what type of gun they use.

High capacity magazines that hold 30 rounds are also a hot topic. Many people believe they are unnecessary and dangerous in the wrongs hands.

McMullen points out it only takes a short time to change a magazine.

"They can talk about high cap magazines all they want," McMullen said. "A magazine change for someone who has ever done it before takes one to two seconds."

There's a war over words as well.

McMullen said the term "assault rifle" is not an accurate description of semi-automatic weapons, although the term is used often.

"I can point any rifle at you, any object at you, it can be a single shot shotgun," McMullen said. "The moment I point it at you it's an assault rifle."

Others like Charline Mitchell don't care what the guns are called, she just believes they kill.

"I've never liked guns," Mitchell said. "I hate guns. I feel like people who own guns or anyone in a bit of anger could do something they are going to regret for the rest of their life. I just never liked to see them, or like to be around them."

She understands using them for hunting, but she believes sometimes just having a gun can lead to violence.

 "Even when I see people on the street with the right to bear I just shudder because I feel like that person has a gun and anything could happen," Mitchell explained. "That person could just come take it out of his holster come kill someone else or anything could happen just because they are available."

She had a family member gunned down and is also scarred by the memory of bullets flying near her car. Mitchell said that could have been the day she could have watched her daughter die in front of her.

"My daughter and I were sitting in the car when someone went in to rob the jewelry shop and the owner came out with the gun and just start firing," Mitchell said. "My daughter and I had to just duck down in the car. He didn't care he was just firing. I'll never get over that."

So Mitchell stands behind lawmakers who want to ban certain firearms and create stricter background checks.

Janet Allen is one the fence. She sees nothing wrong with guns, but she does want the violence in our nation to end.

Captain Lockette agrees with McMullen, claiming people kill people not guns, but he wants gun owners to be safe and remember it's a huge responsibility once one is in your hand.

"Once you pull the trigger that bullet is going to go and if and if you don't understand, you need to know what's behind the bullet, what are you shooting at, who are you shooting at, what is the consequence because the law will come back to deal with you also," Lockette said. 

Everyone we talked to seems to agree that they want people with mental disorders to get more help so weapons won't be used to continue to kill innocent people.

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