CBS News producer shows how easy it is to buy an assault rifle
The Orlando nightclub shootings have restarted the debate over guns and in particular, the AR-15 style rifle, often called an assault rifle. But in many states across the country, the laws are pretty straightforward when it comes to purchasing a gun.
In Virginia, where the Virginia Tech shootings killed 32 people, there is no waiting period for a firearm, even for a so-called assault rifle similar to those used in Orlando and San Bernardino, reports CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave.
CBS News sent a producer into a gun store in Alexandria, just outside of Washington D.C. Per Virginia law, she provided two items to prove state residency - a drivers license and voter ID card - as well as her passport to prove U.S. citizenship.
She filled out some federal and state forms requiring her name, date of birth, social security number and a few basic questions about any past criminal activity or current restraining orders. And she passed a brief electronic background check.
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All told, it took 38 minutes and $1,030 for her to walk out of the store legally armed with a rifle, 100 rounds of ammunition and a 30-round magazine.
"Throughout most of America, you could go into a gun store and buy an AR-15, just like you'd go into a Starbucks and buy a cup of coffee," said UCLA law professor Adam Winkler.
Virginia is one of 41 states with no waiting period beyond the background check. Four states and Washington D.C. impose a waiting period on all firearms, ranging from 10 days in California and D.C. to 24 hours for long guns in Illinois.
Minnesota requires a week-long wait for handguns and assault weapons. Four other states - including Florida - only require a waiting period for handguns.
"Generally, handguns are subject to more extensive commercial sale restrictions because those are the weapons of choice for most criminals," Winkler explained. "Handguns are used far more often to commit crimes. Our patchwork quilt of gun laws is destined to be ineffective."
At a rally outside the NRA Tuesday, gun control supporters renewed their calls for stricter gun laws. But 40 percent of Americans still disagree, even after Omar Mateen opened fire inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, murdering 49 people.
Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America wants fewer laws restricting gun ownership.
"What would be much more productive than waiting periods, background checks, would be to get rid of the gun-free zones where this dirt bag operated in Orlando," Pratt said. "We need to make it so that the good guys are able to act immediately when a bad guy strikes. To have to call the police and to wait five minutes, 10 minutes, is to wait to die."
This debate is not going away. The rifle we purchased was legally transferred to a federally licensed firearms dealer and weapons instructor in Virginia, just hours after we bought it.
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