For Release: Thursday, March 12, 2009
Weak Regulation, Proliferation of Military-Style Guns “Fit Like Gloves on the Bloody Hands of Drug Lords”
Washington, D.C.–Weak regulation of the U.S. civilian gun market and the gun industry’s focus on increasingly lethal military-style firearms have combined to fuel the drug war in Mexico and violence in the United States, Violence Policy Center (VPC) Senior Policy Analyst Tom Diaz told a Congressional subcommittee today. For a copy of Diaz’s testimony, please see http://www.vpc.org/diaztestify.pdf.
“If one wanted to design a system to pour military-style guns into criminal hands, it would be hard to find a better one than the U.S. civilian gun market,” Diaz testified before the Subcommittee on National Security & Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “The only ‘better’ way would be openly selling guns to criminals from the loading docks of manufacturers and importers.”
Diaz pointed out that officials of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) have stated that Mexican drug lords increasingly seek military-style weapons easily available on the U.S. civilian market. These include: the Barrett 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifle capable of piercing armor plate from a mile and a half; semiautomatic assault rifles, including variants of the Colt AR-15 and the Kalashnikov AK-47; and, the “vest-busting” anti-armor handgun the FN Herstal Five-seveN 5.7mm pistol, known as the “cop killer” in Mexico.
The VPC has issued numerous studies on the increasing military-bred lethality of civilian firearms in the United States and on the lax regulation of the U.S. gun market. These are available at the website www.vpc.org.
“The U.S. gun market doesn’t just make gun trafficking in military-style weapons to drug cartels and their criminal associates in the United States easy,” said Diaz, “it practically compels that traffic. Lax regulation of the U.S. gun market and the gun industry’s ruthless design choices fit like gloves on the bloody hands of the drug lords and their criminal gang associates.”
Diaz 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.