BAY CITY, Michigan (WJRT) - (02/23/2018) - In a surprise move, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced a comprehensive plan to keep students safe that includes raising the minimum age to buy a gun.
"We will require all individuals purchasing firearms to be 21 or older," Governor Scott said on Friday.
Nine days ago, a 19-year old former student gunned down 17 people with an AR-15 he purchased legally.
We talked with a mid-Michigan gun shop Friday night about the debate that's now raging around the sale and use of semi-automatic AR-style assault rifles like the one used at the high school in Parkland, Florida.
Customer Spencer Gloss wraps up his purchase of a Glock 42, which he plans to use for personal protection.
Gloss also owns an AR-15.
"Just target practice," he replied when we asked him what he uses it for.
"Just a fun gun to go out and shoot," Gloss added.
The biggest advantage of the AR-15, according to Gloss, is that it's quicker to shoot, and requires less load time than traditional rifles.
Gun shop owner Glen Duncan explains the difference between a semi-automatic and a traditional bolt action rifle:
"When I close it, it's going to feed a shell into the barrel, once I fire it, I open the bolt and the shell comes out," Duncan said.
"Every time you pull the trigger, it's going to shoot one round only, that's it, and so you gotta let go of the trigger again and you can pull it again and squeeze another round off," he said while demonstrating with an AR-15.
The gun fires every time the trigger is pulled and the size of the magazine determines how many rounds you are able to fire before having to reload.
Duncan said the gun is used for target practice, home protection and hunting.
Gunsmith Kyle Broecker demonstrated firing the AR-15 for us.
When we asked him about the looming debate over calls to ban semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, Broecker replied:
"It is easier to shoot faster, that being said, it's not the gun that does the crime. If they're not going to use a gun, they're going to use a bomb," he added.
All customers at Duncan's Outdoor Shop have to undergo a federal background check, which at this time does not include mental health histories.
Duncan says he usually gets one denial a month after running the federal background check.
He also said he keeps an eye out for red flags, such as someone attempting to purchase a gun for another person.
"We can deny you for any reason," Duncan said.
The entire process for a sale takes about 45-minutes.
As for Governor Rick Scott's proposal to raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21?
"I can have a person go and protect our country at 18, why would I go and take away his rights," Duncan said. "He can go and protect my country, but he cannot protect himself."
Duncan says at this time not all Michigan gun shops are required to run the federal checks if someone walks in with a state issued Concealed Pistol License (CPL).