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Easy To Purchase AK-47 in Oregon, California

January 18, 1989

SALEM, Ore. (AP) _ A semiautomatic rifle such as the AK-47 that was used in the Stockton, Calif., school shootings Tuesday can be easily purchased at Oregon gun stores - without even the waiting period required to buy a handgun.

The gunman, identified by police as Patrick Purdy, had bought the rifle from the Sandy Trading Post on Aug. 3, according to Sandy Police Chief Fred Punzel. Authorities say Purdy opened fire in an elementary school yard, killing five youngsters and wounding 30 people before killing himself.

Bob Imel, owner of PAWS gun shop in Salem, said there is no waiting period under Oregon law to buy rifles or shotguns, unless they are fully automatic. There is a five-day wait to buy a handgun, while police agencies check for criminal records.

A buyer is required to sign a form issued by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The form requires the buyer to provide identification and attest that he is not under indictment, has not been convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year in prison and is not a fugitive from justice.

A buyer also must attest that he is not an unlawful user of narcotics, has not been found mentally defective or been committed to a mental instutition, has not been discharged dishonorably from the armed forces, is not an illegal alien and has not renounced U.S. citizenship.

People must be at least 18 to purchase rifles and shotguns and 21 to buy handguns. There are some other requirements, including that a prospective buyer not have been adjudged mentally ill or be an ex-convict, Imel said.

Purchases of automatic weapons are more complicated, he said, because federal law requires extensive background checks and registration of the weapons. The procedure usually takes several months before a buyer can receive the gun, Imel said.

In California, anyone can purchase a semiautomatic weapon by completing a form and showing a driver’s license or other proof of residency in the state.

California Deputy Attorney General Alan Ashby said that even in legal semiautomatic condition, an AK-47 can fire at a rate of 400 rounds per minute, and that conversion to automatic firing, while illegal, is relatively easy on many semiautomatic models.

Sales of the Soviet-designed AK-47s have become intensely controversial in California because of their use by the increasingly violent street gangs in Los Angeles and other communities.

In the Los Angeles area, models of the AK-47 that have been manufactured in China sell from $299 to $329 at sporting goods stores, and are often advertised on sale.

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