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Rifles Lengthen Arm of Law in Garner

Garner police officers will soon carry semiautomatic rifles in an effort to be better prepared for unusual situations.

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GARNER, N.C. — When Garner police officers hit the streets armed with new rifles, they'll be carrying a weapon that will extend the long arm of the law.

The Garner Police Department is purchasing semiautomatic rifles like those issued to U.S. troops. The department aims for every officer to have a rifle while on duty.

Carrying the weapon will make officers more prepared in a world of shootings and terrorist threats, officials said.

"You've seen many school shootings over the past couple of years, where's it's never going to happen in my city, it's never going to happen in my town," Sgt. Joe Binns, of the Garner PD, said. "It's all about being prepared."

Police departments nationwide are investing in semiautomatic rifles because of their accuracy and ability to shoot over long distances, up to the length of 2 1/2 football fields.

While other police departments allow officers the option to carry a rifle, the Garner PD plans to arm every officer with a rifle.

The rifles cost around $850 each and are being paid for with tax dollars and grant money, officers said.

Each officer must train with a semiautomatic rifle for at least 24 hours before being allowed to carry one.

Garner police officers have fired their guns three times in the line of duty during the past seven years, officers said.

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