Maine troopers getting heavier firepower

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PORTLAND (AP) — It’s becoming common for criminals to wield assault rifles, and now Maine state troopers are increasing their firepower as well.

 Troopers are currently getting trained to use the 105 AR-15 assault-style rifles that are being distributed to every trooper on regular patrol.

 Col. Patrick Fleming, state police chief, said the new weapon is easier to use and has more firepower than the 9 mm Ruger carbine rifle it’s replacing. The Bushmaster AR-15, a cousin to the M-16 used by the military, uses standard NATO rounds as well as .223 Remington rounds.

 It’s becoming increasingly common for assault rifles to turn up in the hands of criminals.

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 Just last week in Springield, Maine, a man armed with an AK-47 assault rifle threatened to shoot anyone who came onto his property. Frank Ring, 52, was arrested without incident and was charged with terrorizing, obstructing the reporting of a crime and criminal mischief.

 “We’re constantly looking at the equipment we have to use for our jobs, versus what’s being used by the people that are commiting crimes. Yes, we’re trying to keep up with the growing trends across the country,” Fleming said.

 State Rep. Paulette Beaudoin, D-Biddeford, sponsored the legislation to buy the guns. The rifles were manufactured by Bushmaster in Windham, Maine, and cost $76,191. The older Rugers will be issued to detectives and other members of the department who do not patrol on a regular basis.

 The Bushmaster AR-15 is similar to the M-16 assault rifle used by the military. The guns come with 30-round magazines, but the ones purchased by Maine State Police are semiautomatic, meaning they fire one shot each time the trigger is pulled, said Steve McCausland, a spokesman.

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