50 Caliber Sniper Rifles
That Can Destroy Aircraft Easier to Buy Than Handguns
Ignores Danger in "War on Terrorism"
VPC Releases "Just
Like Bird Hunting"�The Threat to Civil Aviation from 50 Caliber Sniper
Violence Policy Center (VPC) today released
"Just Like Bird Hunting"�The Threat to Civil Aviation from 50 Caliber
Sniper Rifles, which details the threat of military-bred 50 caliber
sniper rifles to aviation and passengers throughout the United States.
The 32-page study discusses the range and striking power of the 50 caliber
sniper rifle and its ammunition in the context of potential terrorist
attacks against civilian airports and aircraft.
50 caliber sniper rifles, available at your local gun shop, are a lethal
danger to the safety and security of Americans. We ask this Administration
to consider the serious consequences of the 50 caliber sniper rifle in
terrorist hands," said Tom Diaz, VPC senior policy analyst and study author.
The 50 caliber sniper
rifle is capable of firing accurately over thousands of yards and can
utilize legally available armor-piercing, incendiary, and explosive ammunition.
The U.S. Army's manual on urban combat states that 50 caliber sniper rifles
are intended for use as anti-materiel weapons, designed to attack bulk
fuel tanks and other high-value targets from a distance, using "their
ability to shoot through all but the heaviest shielding material." Various
models at a wide range of prices are available to civilians from an increasing
number of gun manufacturers.
Even the leading manufacturer
of these deadly terrorist tools, which are easier to buy than handguns,
touts their anti-aircraft capability. In a brochure advertising its Model
82A1 50 caliber sniper rifle, Tennessee-based Barrett Firearms Manufacturing
Inc. states, "The cost-effectiveness of the Model 82A1 cannot be overemphasized
when a round of ammunition purchased for less than 10 USD [U.S. dollars]
can be used to destroy or disable a modern jet aircraft." In 1999 court
testimony, Barrett Manufacturing head Ronnie Barrett testified as to the
50 caliber's ability to destroy aircraft: "If it is coming directly at
you, it is almost as easy. Just like bird hunting. But yes, it is more
difficult if it is horizontally, or moving from left to right, yes."
The VPC has warned
President Bush, Secretary of the Office Of Homeland Security Tom Ridge,
Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and countless
other state and federal officials charged with keeping Americans safe
from terrorist activities of the dangers posed by 50 caliber sniper rifles.
Three years ago in
its report, One Shot, One Kill,
the Violence Policy Center warned for the first time that the unfettered
sale to civilians of military sniper rifles presented a "serious threat
to American national security." That report focused particularly on the
dangers presented by the 50 caliber heavy sniper rifles, noting that these
powerful weapons of war present a "whole new order of threat" by their
ability to "knock down aircraft, including helicopters, and punch through
concrete block, armored vehicles, and other materials that may be relied
upon for executive protection." These devastating features are exactly
why Barrett 50 caliber heavy sniper rifles, for example, are in the armories
of U.S. Marine Corps snipers and at least 17 other armies around the world.
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.
Friday, January 31, 2003
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x105