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AR-15 spotted in parked truck at downtown hotel

Posted at 10:41 AM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 12:14:35-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- An AR-15 rifle was found in plain view in a vehicle at a downtown Indianapolis hotel over the weekend, raising questions about the legality of the situation.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers were called to the Hyatt Regency hotel at 1 S. Capitol Ave. just after 3 a.m. Saturday.

The officers found a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche, with an AR-15 in the front seat, "in plain view," according to an IMPD incident report.

The report's summary notes, "There was no criminal act but officers made a report of the incident." IMPD spokesperson Christopher Wilburn said the gun has not been connected to anything, but it was collected for evidence. Forensic experts will be checking for prints and to see if it was recently fired.

There is no Indiana law prohibiting carrying a firearm in public but as the state's website says, "carrying an exposed firearm in public may be alarming to some people and create unnecessary and unwanted attention to yourself."

Hyatt's firearm policy states that a gun needs to be unloaded, secured in a locked container and safeguarded at all times. Stephanie Lerdall, a spokesperson for Hyatt, said the person who had the gun was a guest, and was violating the policy since the gun wasn't in a locked container. The guest has since checked out, Lerdall said.

Owning or possessing a machine gun is against Indiana law -- it's a Level 5 Felony. But the AR-15 rifle is not a machine gun. The definition, by law, is a weapon that shoots automatically more than one shot by a single function of the trigger.

The AR-15 is one of the most famous and controversial guns in America. An NRA blog called it "America's Most Popular Rifle," while Politico Magazine has called it "The Most Political Gun in America.

An AR-15, or a variant of it, was used in mass deadly shootings in Sutherland Springs, Texas and Las Vegas. Officials initially said it was used in the mass shooting in Orlando in 2016, but later clarified and said it was actually a Sig Sauer MCX.

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