Assault Weapons Violence
events are not isolated incidents. Although no comprehensive nationwide statistics
are available on the misuse of assault weapons specifically, police organizations,
police departments, government agencies, and handgun restriction organizations
agree that the sale and misuse of assault weapons has escalated dramatically during
the 1980s. (Most law enforcement reporting systems are set up only to separate
handguns from long guns. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF),
the government agency charged with enforcing federal firearms laws, will soon
begin breaking out assault weapons from standard long guns.)
- October 1984. San Jose, California police officer Joe Tamarett
is shot and wounded with an UZI carbine.
1988. Virginia resident Michael Anthony Eberhardt is arrested in Washington, D.C.,
for allegedly purchasing 72 guns in Virginia during an 18-month period and then
smuggling them into D.C. for sale to drug dealers. According to The Washington
Post, "Many of the weapons were the semi-automatic TEC-9s favored by local
- April 1986. Two FBI agents are
killed with a Ruger Mini-14 in a shootout in Miami, Florida.
April 1984. Dennis Cresta, dressed in camouflage fatigues and carrying a Ruger
Mini-14 and Colt AR-15, opens fire in Oakland, California, after being questioned
by a policeman. No one is hit.
- July 1987. An
elderly woman and her three sons kill three police officers who come to their
motel room in Inkster, Michigan, to serve a warrant for a $286.40 bad check. One
of the weapons used to slay the officers is a Heckler & Koch assault rifle.
- September 1988. Samuel Eloud holds 11 people hostage in a
Richmond, Virginia shopping center with a semi-automatic AK-47 and handgun in
order to bring "peace to Lebanon."
- June 1984.
Denver, Colorado radio show personality Alan Berg is gunned with a silenced MAC-10
by right-wing extremists.
- July 1984. James Huberty
goes "hunting for humans" with an UZI, a handgun, and a shotgun in a San Ysidro,
California McDonald's. 21 die; 19 are injured.
December 1985. Portland, Connecticut eighth-grader Floyd Warmsley kills school
janitor David Bengston with his father's TEC-9, then holds a classroom of children
- July 1988. Manassas, Virginia police
officer John Conner is gunned down with a Colt AR-15 by a man whose wife had recently
- April 1987. William B. Cruse opens
fire with a Ruger Mini-14 outside a Palm Bay, Florida shopping center, killing
six and injuring 10.
- March 1988. An arsenal
that includes a Chinese-made semi-automatic AK-47, a hand grenade, 14 other semi-automatic
guns, 32-round ammunition magazines, and a handgun outfitted with a laser sight
is seized from five men in New York City's Port Authority bus terminal.
- February 1988. At a press conference decrying the increase
in assault weaponry, Prince Georges County (Maryland) Police Chief Michael J.
Flaherty states, "The real issue is the safety of our officers." Holding up a
TEC-9, he adds, "It's not used for hunting, and it's not used for sporting events.
In my opinion, they should not be sold in the United States."
has been an increase in [assault] weapons by all walks of life—gang members, drug
dealers, your next door neighbor, even police officers," states Detective Bohannon
of the Los Angeles Police Department Gun Detail. In Los Angeles, assault weapons
have turned up increasingly in gang violence and drive-by shootings. Says Bohannon,
"These are not sporting weapons. They're designed for one purpose and one purpose
only, and that's to kill people." (Bohannon stresses that his opinions are personal
and do not reflect the view of the Los Angeles Police Department.) According to
Bohannon, essentially the same models of weapons are being seen on the streets
by police: "Your least expensive weapons are your MACs and TECs. In the middle
you've got your AK-47s and your UZI. At the top level are going to be your AR-15s....[and
During fiscal year 1987, almost a third
of the firearms seized by agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)—the leading
federal agency charged with enforcing America's federal drug laws—from drug traffickers
were semi-automatic and fully automatic. (These figures include non-assault semi-automatic
pistols. Figures on solely assault rifles and pistols are not available.) Sixteen
percent were fully automatic. On a daily basis, DEA agents seized automatic weapons
that included M-16s, AK-47s, MAC-10s, MAC-11s, and UZIs.
From January 1 to February 10, 1988, of the 388 guns seized by the District of
Columbia police, the vast majority were either semi-automatic or fully automatic.
Only seven such weapons were seized during the first six months of 1987, six in
1986, one in 1985, and two in 1984.
Prince George's County, Maryland, from July 1987 through February 1988, police
seized 140 semi-automatic or automatic weapons, including a TEC-9 and several
UZI submachine guns, some equipped with silencers.
In 1986, ATF seized 2,854 illegal machine guns. These weapons were either converted
illegally or illegally possessed. In 1985, the number of illegal weapons seized
was 2,042. In 1984, 539.
The most popular assault
weapons are the AK-47, AR-15A2, MAC-10, MAC-11, Ruger Mini-14, TEC-9 and UZI.
(For a description and brief history of each weapon, as well as select advertising
information, please see Appendix II.) Recognizing the strong market for high-capacity,
concealable assault weapons that are painted black and look threatening, America's
firearms industry continues to introduce new models. Two of the latest are:
- The Calico M100P pistol, manufactured by American Industries
in Bakersfield, California. With its futuristic lines and black finish, this .22
caliber weapon is the Darth Vader of handguns. Composed of a lightweight alloy
frame, it has a "helical feed" 100-round capacity plastic magazine. A 50-round
magazine is also available. The weapon also comes in a carbine (a short-barreled,
lightweight rifle) version with a folding stock. Under the headline "Durable,
Accurate, Light, Versatile," an ad for the gun shows an intimidating M100P pistol
with an optional "Klear-Vue" magazine (a see-through magazine that gives the shooter
"complete visibility of rounds remaining in the magazine") and laser sight.
The pistol version of the weapon is 17 inches long with the 100-round magazine,
and weighs 3.75 pounds. The carbine version, with its stock retracted and the
100-round magazine, is 29.8 inches long. In November 1988, Calico will introduce
a 9mm version of the weapon.
- The Street Sweeper
is a 12-gauge riot shotgun with a revolving cylinder that rotates with each trigger
pull. Able to fire 12 rounds in less than three seconds, the weapon is manufactured
by SWD, Inc. (manufacturers of the MAC-11). An ad for the weapon reads "It's a
Jungle Out There! There Is A Disease And We've Got the Cure." It invites the reader
to "Make you [sic] streets safe and clean with the help of 'The Street Sweeper'!"
With its folding stock retracted, the weapon has an overall length of 25 5/8 inches.
The SWD weapon is modeled on a shotgun used by South African security personnel,
the Striker 12. Efforts had been made to import the Striker, but the weapon was
the first long gun ever to fail the sporting-use test that ATF applies to imported
long guns. (Domestically produced firearms do not have to meet any sporting use
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