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Man carrying AR-15 questioned by Sturgis police

STURGIS — Sturgis police responded to a call this week about a man carrying what the caller believed to be a machine gun.

Sturgis Police officers responded to the area of Lazelle Street and made contact with the individual.  According to Sturgis Police Chief Geody VanDewater, the man refused to give his name or any details about the firearm.

The AR-15 was developed in the late 1950s as a civilian weapon. It entered the mainstream in the mid-1960s, after Colt bought the patent and developed an automatic-fire version for troops in Vietnam, called the M16. The civilian model wasn’t mass produced until the 1980s.

Police say he was carrying an AR-15 style rifle and was walking near the Sturgis Liquor Store and Lynn’s Dakotamart, but didn’t enter either establishment.   VanDewarter said the individual wasn’t violating any state or city laws and there was no cause to detain him.

The man was reminded by officers that it is unlawful to enter a business with a firearm that derives at least half of its income from the sale of alcohol – such as a bar or a liquor store.

In the 2010s, AR-15 style rifles became one of the “most beloved and most vilified rifles” in the United States, according to news reports at the time. The rifles are controversial in part due to their use in high-profile mass shootings. Promoted as “America’s rifle” by the National Rifle Association, AR-15 style rifles’ popularity is partially attributable to proposals to ban or restrict them.

VanDewater did say that if people are concerned about something they see to report it, noting that it’s better to err on the side of caution.

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