For Release: Friday, December 13, 2013
Washington, DC — Today, the Senate voted to confirm B. Todd Jones as the new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This new leadership will clear the way for ATF to take action on long overdue priorities, including renewing enforcement of the ban on assault rifles imported into the United States.
Assault weapons that are imported into the United States play a substantial role in the arsenals of Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations. These guns also show up in significant numbers in domestic crime, including mass shootings.
The George H.W. Bush Administration used an existing provision of the 1968 Gun Control Act to impose a ban on imported assault rifles in 1989. The Clinton Administration strengthened the ban in 1998, but the George W. Bush Administration quietly stopped enforcing it, and ATF has yet to renew aggressive enforcement of this important public safety measure.
The Council on Foreign Relations recommended better enforcement of the ban on imported assault weapons in a July 29, 2013 policy memorandum on reducing gun violence and firearms trafficking in the Americas.
“Even without further action from Congress, ATF already has the power to take important steps forward to prevent gun violence,” said VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “With this vote, ATF will now have the leadership it needs to effectively enforce the ban on imported assault rifles that was first implemented by the George H.W. Bush Administration.”