Las Vegas shooting raises questions about automatic weapons

(WFLA) – A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tells 8 on Your Side that federal agents are “urgently tracing” the firearms they found at the scene of last night’s Las Vegas shooting, where dozens died and thousands fled after the sound of automatic gunfire shattered the night.

Investigators still haven’t officially disclosed how many firearms were involved or what kind.

But ATF did confirm to 8 on Your Side that there are nearly 12,000 legally registered machine guns in the hands of police and civilians just in Nevada and more than 630,000 nationwide.

Carl Norton is a grandmaster marksman and certified firearms instructor in Tampa who sat glued to news coverage of the shootings for much of Monday.

“He wasn’t a marksman. He was just a murderer, a butcher,” Norton said.

Norton believes the gunfire he heard came from an AK-47 assault rifle. There are millions of those weapons nationwide that operate semi-automatically by firing bullets every time you pull the trigger. Several firearm experts we spoke to told us those weapons can be illegally converted to automatic fire, which means they fire bullets as long as you hold down the trigger, until the clip is spent.

“With three of these magazines, you’ve got close to 100 rounds,” Norton said.

Whether the weapon was semi or fully automatic, Norton says even a single high velocity bullet fired from an AK-47 assault rifle could have resulted in multiple casualties in that Las Vegas concert crowd Sunday night.

“I think what we’re looking at is a lot of people were hit, two or three people were hit with one shot from what we saw hitting the concrete bouncing up,” Norton said.

Norton is a lifelong sportsman who prides himself on the responsible use of firearms and like millions of others who watched a massacre unfold over and over in televised news reports, he is shaken and saddened by what happened.

“He was shooting fish in a barrel,” Norton said.

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