Region 8 Prepares for Lift of Assault Weapon Ban

September 13, 2004 – Posted at 6:00 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- The 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban expires at midnight Monday and with it the ban against selling certain powerful semi-automatic firearms. A clause directed that the ban expire unless Congress specifically reauthorized it, which did not happen. But what does that mean for gun owners here in Region 8?

The clock is ticking down on the ban instituted by the Crime Control Act of 1994 and that has some law enforcement officers worried. This time Tuesday, certain assault weapons won't be illegal to own.

"It's kind of scary for law enforcement because if you've only got a hand gun or a shot gun and someone's shooting at you from a hundred yards away, you're in trouble," said Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann.

"The officers and departments have been allowed to have those features, while civilians have not. But as of tomorrow, civilians will be able to own the law enforcement type of assault rifles," Trent Rowe, who runs a rental center in Jonesboro. He also sells assault weapons.

"Collapsible stocks, bayonet lugs and flash suppressers is the big feature and also we'll be able to sell high capacity handgun magazines," said Rowe.

Guns with the expandable stock have been prohibited for the last 10-years; however, Rowe says he's already had customers pre-pay to own their gun when the ban has lifted.

"I have probably six or eight folks who will show up tomorrow to pick their m-4 assault rifle with a collapsible stock that they weren't previously able to own," said Rowe.

Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann say's the lift on the ban may not be a good idea. "I don't think anybody needs a 30-40 round magazine running around with an assault rifle. Even recreational shooters don't do that," said McCann.

Rowe says the rifles are for collectors, not criminals. "Assault rifles are just a novelty item. People like to own things that others don't have," said Rowe.

The banned assault weapons that are about to become legal are selling for about $900 to $1,000 dollars.