AR-15 rifles, like the one used by the Orlando shooter, fairly easy to get in NC

An AR-15 rifle in a file photo.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Investigators say the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen used a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle that he legally purchased just days before the shooting. Putting the gun debate aside, CBS North Carolina Investigates wanted to find out what it takes to buy a similar gun in our state.

“The AR-15 is just a very popular gun,” said Clay Ausley, owner of Fuquay Gun and Gold.

Modeled after military assault rifles, these types of fire arms are flying off the shelves, and getting your hands on one is easier than you may think.

“If I came in right now could I buy an AR-15?” WNCN reporter Jonathan Rodriguez asked. “Absolutely,” Ausley said. “Any citizen of the United States or permanent resident can purchase an AR-15.”

RELATED: Full Orlando Terror Attack coverage

Purchasers do have to provide a photo ID and pass a background check.

“We collect all your information and send it to the ATF and do an instant check on you right then,” Ausley said.

You’re either approved, denied or delayed as further background information is gathered.

“If there’s any gray area or question that they’re unsure of, that gives them time to go in dig a little deeper and come back with an answer at a later time,” Ausley said.

You could walk out with the gun the same day.

Private sales are also legal but gun shops like Fuquay Gun and Gold will allow you to transfer the gun into their possession, and then they will sell it to the buyer so that way they can run the background check for you.

In fact, buying an AR-15 is actually easier than buying a handgun.

“The handgun is going to be a little bit harder because you have to have a pistol purchase permit, or an NC-issued conceal carry permit,” Ausley said.

So a major question now is how Orlando shooter Omar Mateen passed a background check.

“I’m sure some of the FBI agents are asking themselves the same question right now; did we miss something here?” said Campbell University Law Professor Greg Wallace.

Wallace says if you haven’t been charged with a federal crime, chances are you won’t be denied a gun.

“They can’t merely put the guy in the database that would prohibit him from buying a gun, based on maybe some speculation that in the future he might do something bad,” Wallace said.

And regardless of its infamy, local gun shops will tell you the demand for AR-15 style guns isn’t going away any time soon.

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