Two Missouri legislators are considering a bill that would ban assault weapon ownership in the state, but the bill has some critics who say it’s a slippery slope to banning the popular AR-15.
Republican State Representative Paul Sargent, who has introduced a similar bill, said the legislation would outlaw many popular assault weapons that have been popular for decades, such as the AK-47, the SIG-Sauer P226 and the Beretta 92SB.
He said he plans to introduce the bill next month after he gets feedback from the public.
He said he’s also hoping to introduce a bill banning semi-automatic weapons, but he said he is considering it.
“The public has told us they want this, so let’s move forward and make it happen,” he said.
Sargent is a supporter of banning guns from states with high murder rates, which are usually considered safer than states with low murder rates.
He was not immediately available for comment, and a spokeswoman for the State Attorney General’s Office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
“I believe it’s important to have some type of regulation of firearms,” Sargen said.
“We have a long way to go.
I believe there are ways we can make our communities safer.”
The bill’s opponents, including the National Rifle Association, argue that it would unfairly ban weapons used in crimes, like the AR-10 and the ARX-160.
But Sargents campaign says the bill is about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, and that many violent crime rates are falling in states that have banned the AR guns.
“If you’re not going to be able to get your hands on an AR-16 or an AR15, why would you want to go to a gun store?” he said in a recent radio interview.
“And I think it’s really about keeping these weapons out of criminals’ hands, and making sure that those who do commit crimes have a weapon that they can’t buy.”
Sargents office did not respond to a request for comment.
Gun violence prevention advocate Jennifer McCollum said it is not surprising that the state’s gun laws are being considered.
“The AR-17 and AR-type rifles are the best-selling guns in America.
The AR-style rifles are being used in a majority of crimes,” she said.
McCollum is a gun violence prevention coordinator with the New York City-based Violence Policy Center.
She says the AR rifles are popular with criminals because they are easier to conceal and easier to shoot.
The majority of mass shootings have occurred with semi-auto rifles, but some of the shootings have also involved the AR style guns.
Sargon has a background in law enforcement, and he said police departments across the country have been able to stop more violent crimes with less bloodshed than with AR-9 assault rifles.
“In my opinion, it is the AR model that makes these guns so dangerous,” he told NPR in 2015.
Sarge is the state Republican leader, and Republicans hold both chambers of the state legislature.