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Authorities seeing increase in use of assault weapons

Authorities say they are finding more and more military-style high-powered assault rifles at crime scenes, and they say there's nothing they can really do to prevent the weapons from getting in the wrong hands.

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Authorities say they are finding more and more military-style assault rifles at crime scenes, and they say there's nothing they can really do to prevent the weapons from getting into the wrong hands.

These style of guns, frequently referred to as AK-style weapons after the Soviet assault rifle favored all over the world, were involved in two separate investigations this past weekend.

Raleigh police say Antonio Bryant attempted to rob the Applebee's on Hillsborough Street using an assault rifle. And Franklin County sheriff's deputies say a 12-year-old boy accidentally shot his 11-year-old neighbor with his father's semi-automatic rifle.

"I've been in this business 25 years, and it's just getting worse," Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green said.

One reason for the increase, he says, is because of the intimidating nature of the weapons.

"(It's) a dangerous-looking gun, an attention-grabber type gun," he said.

Detective Al Langley, who spent nearly 10 years as a firearms analyst for the State Bureau of Investigation-, says price is another factor.

Assault rifles produced abroad are cheaper than those made domestically, gun dealer Barry Perry says. Some foreign-made weapons sell for as little as $250 while their American-made counterparts can cost four times as much.

Perry says a lot of customers who buy guns from him are also collectors that have a specific interest in guns.

There are no assault-weapon laws in North Carolina. A federal assault weapons ban that prohibited the sell of certain semi-automatic assault weapons to civilians expired nearly four years ago.

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Beau Minnick, Reporter
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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