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A veteran explains the history of the AR-15 rifle

Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 18:30:37-05

FOREST PARK, Ohio -- Almost a century's worth of gun history is displayed on the kitchen table when Jim Butler explains the difference between semi-automatic and automatic weapons. Butler, an army veteran, weapons expert and former Hamilton County prosecutor, knows it all.

"AR stands for Armalite rifle," he said. "It doesn't stand for assault rifle. It doesn't stand for automatic rifle."

Semi-automatic rifles such as the A-15 and M-16, weren't developed and used until World War II and the Korean war, Butler said. Before that, soldiers used the bolt action M1903 Springfield rifle. For a gun to be considered semi-automatic, the user must pull the trigger to get it to fire.

"Civilian models are all semiautomatic," Butler explained.

Assault-style weapons, such as AR-15s and M-16s, fire at a farther range than other rifles and have a higher knockdown power.

Early Wednesday morning, Dick's Sporting Goods, which owns Field and Stream stores, announced its stores would no longer sell assault-style weapons like the one used in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting.

Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz previously purchased a gun at Dick's, but the company said he didn't buy the gun used in the shooting there. Dick's stopped selling semiautomatic-style weapons after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, according to CNN, but Field and Stream stores continued to carry them.

"To me, (an assault rifle) is something that looks big, bad and ugly, but it's not necessarily worse than any other firearm that's out there," Butler said. " That's my take on it."