Los Angeles First City
in Nation to Vote to Ban 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles
Violence Policy Center (VPC) today applauded the Los Angeles City Council
for passing a ban on the sale and possession of 50 caliber sniper rifles.
This marks the first time that a legislative body has voted to ban these
weapons of war. The groundbreaking measure was sponsored by Councilman
Mark Ridley-Thomas and passed unanimously.
The legislative effort,
which received strong support from the LA Police Department, was spearheaded
by the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, aided by
the Pacific Center for Violence Prevention, and based on research by the
Violence Policy Center (VPC).
"With today's unanimous
vote to ban 50 caliber sniper rifles, the City of Los Angeles has sent
a very strong and clear message to California and the rest of the nation:
We must bring these weapons of death and destruction under control," Tom
Diaz, VPC senior policy analyst states.
The Council instructed
the City Attorney to model the new measure regulating 50 caliber sniper
weapons on the city ordinance restricting the sale and possession of assault
weapons. The VPC was the first organization in the country to alert the
American public to the dangers of 50 caliber sniper rifles on the civilian
market with its landmark 1999 study, One Shot, One Kill: Civilian Sales
of Military Sniper Rifles.
The 50 caliber sniper
rifle is an extremely powerful weapon which uses high-caliber ammunition
at distances averaging between 400 and 1,700 yards. These same military
armaments�designed and sold for the express purpose of killing people
and disabling key command and control outposts�are now freely available
across America's gun shop counters. As a result, this ideal tool for assassination
and destruction is now easily accessible to terrorists, criminals, and
the mentally unstable. The VPC continued to warn lawmakers and the public
of the dangers of 50 calibers in its 2001 study Voting from the Rooftops:
How the Gun Industry Armed Osama bin Laden, Other Foreign and Domestic
Terrorists, and Common Criminals with 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles, which
explains the enormous range of 50 caliber sniper rifles, the explosive
power of special armor-piercing and armor-piercing incendiary ammunition
easily available in the United States, and why this war-fighting power
in the hands of Al Qaeda and other terrorists creates a grave threat to
all Americans. The study also details: How 50 caliber sniper rifles can
create disaster at industrial facilities handling explosive, toxic, or
volatile chemicals�the kind of threat terrorism analysts already warn
transforms a target into a weapon; a report for the Air Force which warns
that 50 caliber sniper rifles endanger aircraft, bulk fuel tanks, fuel
trucks, and other airport targets; and, the rash of 50 caliber sniper
rifles found in the arsenals of domestic terrorist and extremist groups,
including one that plotted to kill a state governor, U.S. Senator, and
"We have made extensive
research available to Attorney General John Ashcroft, the FBI, and key
officials throughout the U.S.," Diaz adds. "We call on them to support
the pending legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and
Congressman Henry Waxman."
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x105