published Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Handguns used in most local shootings, police chief says

Some area lawmen say they can get behind the president's call for universal background checks to curb crime, but are skeptical of banning assault rifles and limiting clip capacity.

"Some folks have no business having access to [assault rifles,]" said Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson. "[But] should we punish all those folks that are well meaning?"

Wilson says it's more realistic to toughen regulations on assault rifles, such as classing them with class III weapons such as machine guns and silencers, than ban them altogether. It would be harder for criminals to get their hands on the weapons but ensure responsible citizens can have them for sporting events and collecting, Wilson said.

Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd said very few shootings in the city are committed with assault rifles.

"We could only remember one murder and one drive-by vandalism to a home in the past three to four years," Dodd said. "Ninety to nine-five percent of our shootings are with handguns and probably average three to four shots being fired."

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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