U.S. Can Act Immediately
to Halt Import of AK-47 Assault Rifles Fueling Gun Violence on U.S./Mexico
Border, VPC Tells Congress
Abandoned Enforcement of Existing Law that Could Help Stop the Proliferation
and Smuggling of Military-Style Guns Favored by Mexican Drug Cartels
Obama Administration could act immediately to stop the import into the
U.S. of AK-47-type assault rifles that have become one of the favored
weapons of Mexican drug cartels, Violence Policy Center (VPC) Legislative
Director Kristen Rand told a Congressional subcommittee today. For a copy
of Rand's testimony, please see http://www.vpc.org/randtestify.pdf.
"Enforcement of the
existing ban on the importation of foreign-made assault rifles would have
significant impact on the firepower available to Mexican drug cartels,"
Rand testified before the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House
Foreign Affairs Committee. The ban was first implemented by the George
H.W. Bush Administration in 1989 and is separate from the now-expired
federal assault weapons ban. It does not require congressional action
to be enforced or modified.
Rand, "the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)—the
federal agency charged with enforcing the import ban—has allowed the ban
to collapse and has even helped to create loopholes to circumvent it,
such as allowing importers to bring foreign-made assault weapons into
the country in parts." Rand pointed out that ATF officials have stated
in congressional testimony that Mexican drug lords increasingly seek military-style
weapons easily available on the U.S. civilian market, including AK-47-type
Rand told the subcommittee
that President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder could immediately
direct ATF to strictly exercise its statutory authority to stop the importation
of all semiautomatic assault rifles as "non-sporting" weapons under existing
provisions of the 1968 Gun Control Act. "Cutting off these imports is
a simple, effective measure the U.S. government can take right now to
ratchet down the firepower available to the drug cartels wreaking havoc
along the U.S./Mexico border," said Rand.
The Violence Policy
Center has issued numerous studies on the increasing lethality of military-bred
civilian firearms legally available in the United States. These reports
are available at www.vpc.org.
"ATF is undermining
its own law enforcement efforts on the U.S./Mexico border by allowing
importers to skirt the assault weapons import ban, a law that was put
in place to reduce the firepower available to U.S. drug traffickers. These
weapons are coming into the country by the thousands, are being acquired
by traffickers who smuggle them into Mexico, and are used to attack law
enforcement, public officials, and innocent bystanders," said 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.