Automatic Weapons, How Tough is it to Buy one?


Along with the mourning and questions after the shooting in Las Vegas about why this happened are the questions about the guns used, and should they be out there in the first place?

The average customer at Shepherd Tactical in Beaufort has more than one gun. They know, and follows the rules when it comes to buying them.

“The National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Firearm Owners Protection Act which is in 1986 is what governs the taxes and restrictions on assault weapons and 40 automatic machine guns.”

But for the most dangerous assault rifles, News 3 learned if you want one, for whatever reason, you aren’t walking out of the store armed anytime soon.

“An assault weapon or machine gun you pull the trigger one time and it fires multiple rounds,” explains Charles Riley of Shepherd tactical in Beaufort. “Your traditional rifles, your sporting rifles, your ar 15’s are semi-automatic weapons, they are not assault weapons, so you have to pull the trigger each time in order for it to fire a round.”

An assault weapon. An automatic weapon. A machine gun.

Whatever name you call it, this gun can fire dozens of deadly shots in just seconds.

For a buyer, this firepower doesn’t come easily or quickly. Averge cost is between $6000 and $40,000 to buy.

“The cost includes extra taxes, extensive background check by ATF and FBI to the tune of 11-12 months right now,” explains Charles Riley

11-12 months of waiting for an automatic weapon only built before 1986, and only bought only through a certified dealer. And only after filling out pages of paperwork and full background check.

“Its frustrating for the customer, its frustrating for us too. but it is what the law is,” says Riley.

Riley sells between 10-15 a year he says to other dealers and personal users. He says most buyers never fire the gun.. they are more collector’s items which go up exponentially in value.

“They are an investment value, something that might cost $14,000 may turn around and sell it 30-5 years from now to 24,000, 25,000 could go up in value,” explains Riley.

But could someone decide not to wait as long, buy a semi-automatic and covert it into the even more dangerous automatic form?

“Not only is it not easy, its illegal,” says Riley.

“Your average gun owner, its going to take a lot of work to covert.”

“Could an average gun owner do it?”

“No i would say absolutely not.”

“Fully automatic machine guns its not as simple as pulling the trigger, you have to effectively use it and if it doesnt operate correctly, which happens a lot, to do something to fix it.”

While getting those extended magazines, drums and bullets is an easier task. You can buy them right online.

Riley says its not the product, but the person that is the true danger.

“Its no different than buying a fast car just because you can,” explains Riley. “Its not like you are going racing 200 mph just because you can. its illegal to do.”

“it really comes down to education, there’s a difference between learning to be in compliance with a buyer or seller and learning because you are a bad person, you want to do something illegal.”

Riley is also making sure his store and customers follow the law.

He will not sell a gun to someone put on a 3 day “hold’ through the Brady law until he hears back from the FBI. If he doesn’t hear back, then the customer doesn’t get the firearm.

Shepherd Tactical also pulled the low cost handguns off its shelves because they are the ones crooks are most likely to use during a robbery or assault.

Riley says its a small step, and you can’t stop everyone. But you can protect your business.. and your community.

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