For Release: Tuesday, September 24, 2002
WASHINGTON, DC The 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 federal judges.
“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.”