Wildlife agency wants more powerful weapons - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Wildlife agency wants more powerful weapons

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Mississippi Department Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks is taking bids on 250 high-powered assault rifles to upgrade its crime fighting arsenal.  The AR-15 is the civilian version of the military's M-16 rifle. 

The AR-15 is the same rifle used by the Mississippi Highway Patrol which has 635 of them. A legal ad in a statewide newspaper says they must have four magazines per gun, night sights and trade in allowances for existing weapons.  

Jim Walker, spokesman for Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks was on the coast and could not appear on camera. He said his agency needs the AR-15s to keep them from being outgunned by the lawbreakers.  He said conservation officers are often the first responders when something happens in rural areas of Mississippi and they need to be well armed. 

Phil Hemphill, a retired highway patrolman, and now guns instructor for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety is happy to see the wildlife officers advertising for bids on AR-15s.  

"If you have a game and fish officer, and you have got a state trooper out there, they've got the same weapon, the same magazines, if one guy gets out of ammunition, they can swap the magazines," said Hemphill. 

Hemphill is an 11-time national champion for shooting honors, more than anybody else alive. He just won the national championship at Camp Perry, Ohio, and is a 10-time national police pistol champion. 

Jim Stegall is a licensed Class 3 weapons dealer, and Vietnam veteran. He showed the differences in AR-15 bullets and other weapons commonly used. 

Stegall said, "This is the bullet fired by the AR-15. This is your little cheap SKS, AK47. Cheap gun, bigger bullet."

Wildlife spokesman Jim Walker told us the day of the shotgun and .38 special are gone for good.

Copyright 2011 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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