Revelation That Romanian
AK-47s Seized by Italian Authorities Are Legal Proves Need to Strengthen,
Not Just Renew, Federal Assault Weapons Ban
Current Law Allows
the Import and Sale of Supposedly Banned Assault Weapons
admission by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)
that the agency had issued import permits for a shipment of approximately
7,500 AK-47s and other assault rifles from Romania clearly demonstrates
the need to significantly strengthen the federal assault weapons ban as
well as the separate set of rules that apply to imported firearms, the
Violence Policy Center (VPC) stated today.
The shipment, initially
seized by Italian authorities who suspected the weapons were being smuggled
into the U.S., was in fact headed for Century International Arms, an assault
weapon importer. Century International Arms sells a wide variety of firearms,
including imported assault weapons, that can be viewed on the company's
website located at www.centuryarms.com.
VPC Legislative Director
Kristen Rand states, "This situation starkly demonstrates the gaping loopholes
in the federal assault weapons ban, as well as the Bush Administration's
lax and irresponsible enforcement of the separate rules that apply to
Because the current
federal assault weapons ban�set to expire on September 13, 2004�is too
weak, it cannot stop the import of such weapons. Under the separate law
that applies to imported firearms, the Bush Administration has clear authority
to exclude such guns from import, but ATF's weak interpretation of the
statute allows the import of AK-47s and other assault weapons.
Rand states, "There
are two possible ways to fix this. One, the Bush Administration can halt
such imports with the stroke of a pen using existing executive authority
that applies to the import of firearms that are not suitable for �sporting
purposes.'" President George H.W. Bush exercised this authority in 1989
to temporarily halt assault rifle imports after Patrick Purdy, armed with
an imported AK-47, killed five and wounded 30 in a California schoolyard.
"The other way to
remedy the situation is for Congress to pass a strengthened federal assault
weapons ban that clearly bans these imports. The current federal ban is
too weak. It simply does not apply to these guns. If the current federal
assault weapons ban is merely renewed, imported AK-47s and other foreign-made
assault rifles will remain perfectly legal," adds Rand.
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.
Thursday, April 29, 2004
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x122