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Inside Buck and Bass Sporting Goods in Pensacola, Fla. (Image: WEAR)

Rifle rundown: Buying an AR-15 in Florida



By Hannah Mackenzie

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WEAR) — To get your hands on a modern sporting rifle you need three things - a valid driver's license, to fill out an ATF 4473, and then pass a background check.

Last week, the sign outside Buck and Bass Sporting Goods was advertising a sale on AR-15s. Now, there's a more political message.

Click here to watch the full report.

"Acknowledge God's laws and enforce gun laws," said owner Rick Bankston.

Bankston changed the sign the day after Nikolas Cruz opened fire, killing 17 in Parkland, Florida. For Bankston though, it's not a matter of gun control.

"It's a matter of attitude and mental health issues," said Bankston. "A killer is a killer and he's going to find a weapon no matter what you do with the guns."

Cruz used an AR-style gun. AR doesn't stand for assault rifle or automatic rifle, but Armalite rifle. Bankston said it's a popular gun because of its versatility and interchangeable parts.

"Think of it as a pickup truck," said Bankston. "There are many different kinds, many different colors and they make them in many different ways to fit anyone's needs."

The umbrella term is modern sporting rifle or MSR. In Florida, the age requirement to buy one is 18, but unless you are active military, Bankston doesn't sell rifles to anyone under 21.

"Their brains are not fully formed," said Bankston. "They're full of emotions and they act on impulse sometimes rather than wisdom."

In the store, we ran into Chris who wasn't buying a rifle, but a revolver. More specifically, five revolvers.

"I did get bitten by the gun bug a little bit," said Chris. "You know, you buy one, then you see another one that looks pretty nice."

Originally from England, where guns are strictly regulated, Chris said gun laws are fairly lax in Florida, but adds it's up to gun owners to use them responsibly.

"Responsibility is a big factor here," said Chris. "People who own guns have big responsibilities. They must be careful."

To buy a handgun in Florida, there is a three full day waiting period. With rifles, you could pick it up the same day. Despite the law, Bankston said if he feels something isn't right, you won't be walking out of his store with a gun.

"We have refused probably, in the last five years, about eight or ten," said Bankston.

There is a gray area when it comes to getting your hands on a gun. Private gun transfers between unlicensed individuals are legal in the state of Florida, which bypasses the background check completely.

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