Only Six Months Before
Federal Assault Weapons Ban Expires
Center (VPC) Says Law Must be Strengthened to be Effective
Saturday, March 13th, will mark six months until the federal assault weapons
ban is set to expire. The failure of Congress and President Bush to act
to renew, and more importantly strengthen, the assault weapons
ban before September 13, 2004, puts the safety of America's police and
public at extreme risk, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) warned today.
Legislation to strengthen current law, the "Assault Weapons Ban and Law
Enforcement Protection Act" (S. 1431 and H.R. 2038), is currently pending
Kristen Rand, VPC
legislative director, states, "America's burgeoning assault weapons industry
poses a clear and present danger to all Americans. Congress must act now
to pass an assault weapons ban that truly bans assault weapons."
The gun industry has
successfully evaded the current ban by making insignificant, mostly cosmetic,
changes in the design of banned assault weapons�such as AK-47s, AR-15s,
MAC-10s, and UZIs�and then marketing them as "post-ban" guns. The changes
can be as slight as simply removing a flash suppressor from the end of
the barrel of an assault rifle and replacing it with a muzzle brake (these
two components look almost identical, but perform different functions)
or adding a fixed stock. The Washington, DC-area snipers used a Bushmaster
"post-ban" AR-15-style assault rifle in a killing spree that left 10 dead
and three wounded in 2002. At the same time, new assault weapons have
come onto the marketplace, such as the Hi-Point Carbine used in the 1999
Columbine massacre. Pre- and post-ban guns continue to pose an unprecedented
threat to the police and public:
- Assault weapons
were used to kill one out of five law enforcement officers slain in
the line of duty from 1998 through 2001, according to FBI data.
- Assault weapons
have been used in some of the most notorious mass shootings since the
ban was enacted in 1994, including: the 1997 shooting at the Caltrans
Maintenance Yard in Orange, California, where four were killed and two
were wounded (AK-47 assault rifle); the Columbine High School massacre
in 1999 that left 13 dead and 23 wounded (TEC-DC9 assault pistol and
Hi-Point Carbine); the 2000 shooting at the Edgewater Technology office
in Wakefield, Massachusetts, that left seven dead (AK-47 assault rifle);
and, the 2001 shooting at Navistar International Corporation that took
four lives and wounded four (SKS assault rifle).
Adds Rand, "The gun
industry has eviscerated the assault weapons ban. The time for Congress
and President Bush to act is now."
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, March 12, 2004
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x122