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Posted: 12/1/2002 9:57:27 AM EDT
The first semi-automatic rifle was developed by John Browning in the years following the Civil War, about the same time modern photography was being born, before radio and television were invented. Semi-autos were commercially available to the public, through the Sears catalog among other places, at the turn of the last century, and for many decades before the US military ever adopted its first semi-auto rifle, the M-1 Garand in the days preceding WWII. Semi-automatics are simply modern design firearms, the rifle using the force of the expanding gas from a fired cartridge to load the next bullet to be fired. The 1994 "Assault Weapons" ban limited certain features on semi-automatics that made them appear similar to fully automatic or machine guns, and semi-autos manufactured today comply with all these restrictions of the law. It is important to remember that no semi-automatic rifle, pistol or shotgun -- no firearm at all for that matter -- can be sold at retail without the buyer passing a background check conducted of police records by the FBI, and that includes such sales at gun shows. No other product sold in America is as tightly regulated, and gun shops, wholesalers and firearm manufacturers all must be licensed by the federal government as well as meet all applicable state and local requirements to operate in business. Finally, firearms capable of firing a single shot accurately at distances up to 150 yards have been in civilian hands in America since before there was a United States. Some 80 million Americans are likely to have such a firearm safely stored in the home, and each year millions enjoy the recreational use of such products in a safe, legal, and responsible way.
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