This story has been updated to reflect later reports that the gun used by the shooter was a Sig Sauer MCX, not an AR-15 as previously stated.

The day after the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history, and the biggest terror attack in the U.S. since 9/11, President Obama addressed the nation.

Speaking to an issue he has addressed repeatedly during his two terms in the White House, President Obama struck, if not a note of resignation, something close to it.

The “powerful assault rifle” the president referred to is the Sig Sauer MCX, a long weapon with an instantly recognizable profile that belies its military origins – a model quite popular here in Texas. Its private ownership is protected by the Second Amendment, of which there are two dominant and dissonant visions.

Two dominant and dissonant views of the Second Amendment prevail: One is that the amendment is as outdated as its contemporary, the musket, and was never intended to guarantee the citizen a right to use weapons as powerful as the pure killing machines of the modern military arsenal.

The other is that the Second Amendment is no less a deliberate check on the potential abuse of government power than are any of the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights, as vital to the character of American self-government as the right to protest presidents, assemble in secret, or speak heresies against people in high places.

Does an assault rifle have a legitimate hunting purpose? Are there not better alternatives for self-defense? The Constitution is silent on sportsmen or burglars. But such questions do come up in the debate over the limits of gun ownership, nearly certain to be the next legal frontier given last week’s Ninth Circuit opinion upholding restrictions on concealed carry in California.

But after yesterday, with much reporting on the weapon used and the right of the assailant to own it, what’s fact and what’s fiction?

Michelle Byington, a lawyer with Houston-based office of Walker & Byington, says in Florida and Texas, licenses are not required to possess, purchase or own a gun.

Federal firearms licensed dealers sell guns like the Sig Sauer MCX.

“You go in, you fill out this form,” Byington says. “It’s called a Form 4473, which then allows the dealer to conduct a background check to make sure this individual does not hit the radar as a felon.”

Convictions like domestic violence or owing back taxes preclude buyers from purchasing a gun or rifle. Byington says the background checks are covered by federal law, so a check in Florida is the same as in Texas. Reports have said Mateen had a concealed weapons holder permit – similar to Texas’s license to carry a firearm.

“Here in Texas, if you are not a license holder, you have to go to a license-to-carry class,” she says. “They teach you tactical response issues, they teach you about the use of force and the use of deadly force laws pertaining to firearms and then you’ve actually got to get out there on the range and shoot the firearm as well and pass that aspect of the class as well.”

Byington says it’s unlikely Mateen carried a gun capable of shooting 700 rounds a minute, as one Florida Congressman stated on CNN.

Military grade firearms are likely automatic rifles, which sprays multiple bullets with one pull of the trigger. The spray stops when the shooter takes his finger off the trigger.

“This here that was used in the massacre was a semi-automatic – one pull of the trigger, one bullet comes out,” she says.

Byington says how quickly the assailant shot rounds would have depended more on how quickly he was able to reload a new magazine, rather than the ability of the gun to shoot multiple bullets with one pull of the trigger.

Post prepared by Hannah McBride.

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  • Breaker Morant October 9, 2016 at 1:30 am

    The issue is about the 2nd Amendment.
    There are weapons which render ARs ancillary. Thank goodness Hollywood focuses on boobies, butts and flashy firearms. The reality is quality bests quantity. Rambo was entertaining, Carlos Hathcock was effective.

  • Dennis Alexander June 17, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    If you ever fired an M16 on semi- automatic let alone automatic- and thought it had a value for hunting you are denying reality. A magazine clip holding more than 5-10 rounds maximum has no,purpose other than for use in combat to kill people.
    If the 2nd amendment grants me the right to arms without restrictions, I want what the military has. This is is a stupid ” debate”.

  • Randy June 15, 2016 at 11:12 am

    The AR-15 is the “civilian” model of the military rifle – M16. The original AR was indeed designed and built as a “small arms” military weapon. The rifles are semi-automatic and can fire as quickly as the operator can pull the trigger. The BS being spouted by unlimited 2nd Amendment that this weapon is not an assault rifle are just misinformation and NRA rhetorical talking points. There is no designation that an “assault” weapon must be capable of automatic firing. These guns were designed and intended as assault weapons for military use. The prohibition on these weapons being fully automatic, does not change that. These weapons have no legitimate use as an hunting rifle, unless of course you’re hunting human foe.

  • Steve Rothstein June 13, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I am looking for the facts in the article. The only two points made correctly were the part about AR not standing for assault rifle and that the AR-15 is semi-automatic and not the fully automatic military rifle.

    For example, you do not need a license in Texas to use a firearm. You do not even need one to carry it. You do need a license to carry a pistol off your own premises and outside of your own car, but you can legally carry a rifle almost anywhere without any license.

    If you want information on firearms in Texas, I strongly suggest you read the Texas laws yourself. Chapter 46 of the Penal Code covers what is needed to carry or buy a weapon and chapter 9 of the Penal Code covers when you can use it for self-defense or defense of property.

  • W.Barry June 13, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    The AR-15 is not capable of automatic fire. As such it is not an “assault rifle”. However it was defined as an “assault weapon” in the 1993 gun law. That is a political designation. The AR-15 is simply an M-1 Carbine with a more powerful cartridge and modern materials and looks .

  • Cheryl June 13, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Re assault weapons in Florida/Texas . . . should’ve asked about reciprocity. It is possible (common?) to buy your gun in Texas but get your license to carry from another state (Florida? Virginia?) that DO NOT require the owner ever even fire the weapon and offer the “class” completely on-line.