SPECIAL REPORT: Rifles, easy to carry for citizens, not for law enforcement

SPECIAL REPORT: Rifles, easy to carry for citizens, not for law enforcement

MIDLAND-ODESSA, TX (KWES) - It's rare to see law enforcement armed with rifles, some of them even aren't allowed to. However, any civilian can carry them, without training or a permit.

It's your constitutional right to walk down the street with a firearm, no formal training or permit required. Not all members of law enforcement can do the same.

"We don't carry them overtly unless the incident requires the deployment of the weapon system," said Deputy Chief Seth Herman, with Field Operations Bureau at The Midland Police Department.

Both Midland and Odessa police departments have these firearms and take them out when it fits the occasion.

"It's too much, it's a big rifle, you don't need to pull it out for every situation that we have," said Sgt. Carlos Chavez, Range Master with The Odessa Police Department.

In Midland, not all police have them. First there's an application process, if they pass that authorities have to attend a 40-hour course. They learn all the basics like how to take them apart, clean them and shoot long distance. After that training, they still have to take a week long course every year.

"The reason obviously that we go through such extensive training in order to qualify to even carry one of those weapon systems is the danger that's involved," said Herman. "When they're deployed a long gun is obviously much more lethal at a longer distance."

In Odessa all law enforcement vehicles contain a rifle. Felony stops, active shooters and building searches are the most common situations when they're needed. During patrol school, officers have to pass a 24-hour course where they learn the rifle basics. Annually they have a mandatory class for additional training.

"They [citizens] have their right to carry those rifles, we've had no problem with anybody with those rifles even when we've come in contact," said Chavez. "Unless you're a bad guy who's trying to shoot us, then that's a different story."

Tony Grijalva, co-owner of the Family Armory & Indoor Range said sales for the AR-15 are heavily influenced by current events.

"Whether it be a tragedy or whether it be a political new law or people talking about banning this or that kind of weapon, it puts it in the consumer's mind that they need to buy," said Grijalva.

Grijalva said contrary to popular belief, AR means ArmaLite, not assault rifle. If you're at least 18, a legal resident and have a clean background, the transaction is fast.

"They can come in and out and purchase a rifle in under 10 minutes," said Grijalva.

Felons and those mentally ill are forbidden from purchasing a firearm. Grijalva said these rifles are mainly used for hunting and sport.

AR-15 owner, James, got the rifle for recreational use and enjoys shooting long distance. James said just because you can carry a rifle around, doesn't mean you should.

"It's much safer to have a concealed weapon than to walk around and cause panic," said James.

Authorities protect your second amendment right to walk around with a firearm, for anyone wanting to cause fear or harm authorities are ready.

"These rifles that we carry we have to match with the bad guy because a lot of these bad guys they can get these rifles anywhere, drug cartel has these rifles," said Chavez. "We have to match up to these guys."

Authorities said fully automatic rifles are only accessible to law enforcement, any purchased in store are semi-automatic.

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