With the growing concern over violence, the Georgia State Patrol is now arming its troopers with semiautomatic rifles.
Troopers at the State Capitol are the first to carry the patrol rifles. The goal is to eventually arm all troopers with the long guns.
"All of this is supposed to be proactive," said Col. Mark McDonough of the Georgia State Patrol. "It's a very visible thing when you see those long guns and there's a deterrent factor with that. We are serious about keeping that area safe."
The rifles are AR-15s that are lightweight and fire at high velocity. They have an impressive range and can fire as far as a third of a mile.
"Last year, more officers were killed in the line of duty by handguns than ever before," said McDonough. "Twenty percent of all of those who died in the line of duty were state troopers. That's the environment that we live in."
The state patrol said troopers were first trained to use the rifles five years ago but have since been retrained.
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