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Gun control group wants ban on .50 caliber rifles

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Gun control advocates fear terrorists will use .50 caliber rounds like this to take down civilian aircraft. Gun rights advocates say the threat is exaggerated.

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – Gun control advocates in Missouri and Illinois say legislators need to ban .50 caliber rifles before they fall into the hands of terrorists.

The weapons use half-inch rounds and are accurate to more than a mile.

Thom Mannard with the Illinois Council against Handgun Violence says such firearms are a threat to national security.

"The .50 caliber sniper rifle is so powerful that it can shoot at civilian airplanes during takeoff and landing from hundreds of yards away."

But Illinois NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde says even a skilled marksman could not hit a moving aircraft with the weapon.

He also says proposed bans of .50 caliber rifles are too broad and could include hunting and target shooting guns.

"They consistently write broad definitions to sit there and ban as many firearms as possible in their legislation," Vandermyde said. "We've seen this time and time again. What they're simply trying to do is hold up one gun while they band a whole host of other guns."

During its last session, the Illinois House considered a bill that would have prohibited the sale and manufacture of .50 caliber rifles or ammunition. But that legislation never got to the House floor.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law last year that bans the weapons in that state.

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