GUN CONTROL

Assault-rifle ban faces criticism in Miami-Dade

 

The owner of a Hialeah factory that assembles AR-15 rifles is not happy with the president’s assault-rifle measure.

eflor@ElNuevoHerald.com

Entrepreneurs, customers and security-field instructors in Miami-Dade criticized President Barack Obama’s measures Thursday to ban the sale of assault rifles among others that seek to tighten gun control in the country.

Antonio “Tony” Vega, owner of Code Red Firearms, a Hialeah factory that specializes in assembling AR-15 rifles, said that the measure will prompt a substantial increase in the sale of those weapons in the black market.

“It’s a totally wrong measure. It will be catastrophic,” Vega said. “This will backfire on the government because banning assault rifles will lead to more speculation, and these weapons will be more coveted and traded without control in the black market.”

PRICE INCREASE

Vega, who ran unsuccessfully for the Hialeah City Council in 2011, said that during the recent presidential campaign high-caliber rifles had a gradual increase in price, “probably due to Obama’s imminent reelection.”

“It was expected that with his reelection, Obama was going to implement a harder policy against weapons,” Vega said. “Anticipating any ban, people began to buy more and more of this type of rifles.”

The price of AR-15 rifles assembled in Hialeah went up to the point of doubling — from a little more than $900 to $1,800 after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a school in Connecticut.

Code Red Firearms began to assemble those rifles in Hialeah six months ago. Each rifle, which is a civilian version of the models used by U.S. troops, bears the name of Hialeah. The parts are originally produced at Code Red Firearms’ headquarters in Detroit.

“But with this measure, it is most likely that we will have to lay off the employees,” Vega said. “What is being done here is punish those of us who have a legal enterprise and keep a register of arms sales, to finally favor those who are in the black market. It’s a tremendous mistake.”

Among the 23 executive orders signed by Obama and Vice President Joe Biden — which do not require congressional approval — is also the obligation to verify criminal records for all arms sales. It was also proposed that state authorities share their database of criminal records at the federal level.

Entrepreneur Alex Pérez, owner of Florida Gun Center in Hialeah, said that currently all arms sales at legal stores are properly verified.

PRIVATE SALES

“One of the main problems is the private sales between people who do not report these transactions,” Pérez said. “The people who perform in a legal scenario will continue to do it. I believe that the issue is not to approve more rules but to make sure that the existing ones are enforced.”

Husband and wife Pedro and Lázara Hernández, who were practicing Wednesday at FPI shooting gallery in Hialeah, said that the authorities should focus on providing the best security to public places such as schools.

“I’m in favor of arms for protection,” said Lázara, a mother of two. “With all that is happening, I think there should be better protection at schools.”

Instructor Ike Mont-Ros, who works in Hialeah, said that the measures to tighten gun control usually focus on arms and not users.

“Weapons are instruments that grant a power that carries a great responsibility,” said Mont-Ros. “I think every owner of a weapon should be well trained, which is seldom the case.”

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