By Chris Francescani
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The new AR 15 semi-automatic rifles, designed to meet tough gun restrictions passed by some states in the wake of mass shootings, are now in gun shops in New York state but initial demand has been low, shop owners said.
Complying with New York and Connecticut gun laws aimed at creating weapons that are less lethal, the modified models have a higher price tag.
"The market for AR 15s has moved over the border to Pennsylvania," John Kielbasa, who recently received his first manufacturer shipment of the new rifles, designed specifically to comply with New York's new laws.
"I'm a one-man shop, and for many manufacturers who used to deal with me, it's not worth it anymore," he said, adding he is considering not selling the weapon at his Hankins, New York, shop, about a mile from the Pennsylvania border.
The two main modifications to the AR 15 rifles are the lack of a muzzle brake, which controls the rapid fire of bullets, and a flash hide, or suppressor, which limits the flash of light coming out of the barrel, Kielbasa said.
The suppressor allowed night-time shooters to obscure their location by masking the "flash" of light. The new AR 15 model costs about $100 more than the old one.
Some states have tightened gun restrictions in the wake of mass shootings, especially since a 20-year-old gunman walked into a Newtown, Connecticut school and killed 20 children and six adults in 2012.
In states like New York and Connecticut officials said they are not sorry the new guns are not flying off the shelf.
"One of the goals of the legislation is to have fewer of these kinds of weapons in circulation over time, and we're pretty sure that will happen," said Mike Lawlor, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy's Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning.
Different requirements set by states such as New York, Connecticut, California and Ohio, make production costly and time-consuming, some manufacturers said. Others said the standards demanded of them do not make the guns safer but only changes how they look.
"Cosmetic changes to firearms are not really the issue," said Mike Bazinet, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group for firearms manufacturers.
(Reporting By Chris Francescani; editing by Gunna Dickson)
- New York