Gun owner shows KCRG-TV9 difference between a gun and an air rifle

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 6:50 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness wants air rifles to be labeled as firearms or dangerous weapons. But gun rights advocates are already pushing back. They argue the act should be a crime, not the weapon. Last month, a 69-year old man used an air rifle to try and shoot a squirrel at his home in Iowa City

The pellet instead hit 20 year old Gabe Heefner, who was driving by. He is currently getting treatment for his injuries. Trent McAtee is the manager at Tactical Creations in Vinton. He says there is a big difference between an air rifle, and a regular gun that shoots bullets.

McAtee took TV-9 to a gun range in Benton County where he fired off rounds at a target with two different air rifles. Air rifles use pellets that are much smaller than bullets. He says they are also less harmful to humans than regular guns. He highlights that the air rifles bullets could not penetrate the target he was shooting at.

“Not made for a defensive use weapon or anything,” he said. “Made for recreational use like this {gun range}, or hunting small game.”

Next, he got out his rifle for target practice to show bullets penetrate through a target.

McAtee thinks the Johnson County Attorney is overreacting with her proposal to label air rifles as firearms. He argues criminals won’t obey the law, saying air rifles are already illegal to shoot in Iowa City.

“Even if we had laws that goes if this is a firearm, it’s still not going to change the fact that it happened,” he said of the incident in Iowa City. “This was going to happen regardless.”

Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness says a law change could bring stiffer penalties for offenders.

“These are actually the type of weapon that can kill somebody,” she said. “However, because they’re not classified as a firearm, we can’t charge reckless use of a firearm.”

She says her proposal is for safety, and not an overreaction. “When you have some kind of a device like this that is dangerous and people don’t recognize it as having the same lethality as a firearm, maybe aren’t as careful,” she said.

McAtee wishes Lyness would talk to people like him before proposing legislation. “What they’re doing is they’re trying to make laws about something they don’t understand,” he said.

Lyness plans to start reaching out to lawmakers soon.

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