Police not seeing many changes in the types of guns used

In spite of a small spike in illegal use of automatic weapons, most guns used in crimes here are "legal, semi-automatic" weapons, according to Carson Sheriff's Chief Deputy Steve Schuette.

Though automatic weapons have become cheaper and a part of the hip-hop vernacular, the mainstream acquisition has yet to hit Northern Nevada according to gun dealers and law enforcement officials.

"I have not noted any trend differences in the last four years in the amount of federal permits for automatics crossing my desk," Sheriff Kenny Furlong said.

"I haven't noticed any major increases in crimes involving automatic weapons either."

Schuette said weapons most frequently used in Carson-area crimes are semi-automatic pistols.

"We have almost zero reports of crimes involving automatic weapons," he said. "We do get calls about people using them at the range. In the past we've confiscated them and sent them to the ATF. Most of the weapons we seize from crimes are semi-automatic."

One local gun dealer characterized the amount of automatics sold as "minuscule."

"People look for reliability foremost," said Mike Ford, co-owner of Nevada Gun Exchange, which does not deal automatic weapons. "A lot don't buy autos because they're more expensive; a reliable pistol or a rifle is what we sell."

Elaine Ferguson, owner of the Carson Armory, which is the only dealer in town selling automatic weapons, said her dealership only sells five or six automatic weapons a year, and more than 1,000 guns total during that same time frame.

"We've seen the sale of automatic weapons go up a little bit, but there's been a dramatic increase of business in general over the past six years since Sept. 11," she said. "Part of it is related to population (increase), and part of it is related to people realizing they need home protection."

And while guns continue to be bought and sold in record numbers in Northern Nevada, one activist still cautions as the old guard of gun users continues to dwindle.

"The Western gun culture was built on respect for firearms," Brady Campaign spokesman Peter Hamm said. "It means you lock it up in a safe when you're not using it. It means you take gun-safety courses. It means maybe it takes more than an hour to buy a gun. It means you don't use it in an argument with a boyfriend or a girlfriend.

"It means being responsible."


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