For Release: Wednesday, March 3, 2004
(March 3rd, 2004, Chicago, IL)-A new study shows that Illinois has more “post-ban” assault weapon manufacturers than any other state, according to the release of “Illinois: Land of Post-Ban Assault Weapons” conducted by the Violence Policy Center, based in Washington, D.C. Although the federal assault weapons ban was passed in 1994, the gun industry has willfully circumvented federal law and created through a process dubbed “sporterization” a new generation of assault weapons and re-named them “post-ban” or “after-ban”assault weapons. The gun industry has evaded the intent of Congress to get military style semi-automatic assault weapons off the streets by making minor cosmetic changes and producing “clones” and “knock-off” versions to continue to sell for profit at the expense of public safety.
Since 1994, six Illinois gunmakers – ArmaLite, Inc., D.S. Arms, Inc., Eagle Arms, Les Baer Custom, Inc., Rock River Arms, Inc., and Springfield Armory, Inc. – have manufactured post-ban assault weapons. Today, all, except apparently for Springfield Armory, Inc., manufacture post-ban semi-automatic assault weapons.
Yesterday, the Senate passed an extension of the assault weapons ban as an amendment to legislation that would have granted the gun industry civil immunity. The gun industry immunity bill was soundly defeated as the result of gun control amendments. However, had the assault weapons amendment become law, it would not have stopped Illinois gun manufacturers from producing post-ban, semi-automatic assault weapons. This stands as clear evidence the ban needs to be not only renewed, but also strengthened.
Military style semi-automatic assault weapons pose a grave risk to law enforcement officers. One in every five law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty between January 1st, 1998, and December 31st, 2001, were killed with assault weapons according to a study “Officer Down”-Assault Weapons and the War on Law Enforcement also conducted by the Violence Policy Center.
“While we do not want to diminish the significance of the Senate voting to extend the assault weapons ban, unfortunately, the extension would do nothing to curtail Illinois’ unique distinction as being number one in manufacturing these deadly assault weapons,” said Thom Mannard, Executive Director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. “That’s because the current assault weapons ban needs to be strengthened, not just renewed. Our police officers deserve better, and we will continue to fight for a stronger assault weapons ban.”
“The Senate vote on the assault weapons ban amendment shows that there is bi-partisan support on this important public safety issue. Clearly, Senators on both sides of the aisle know that they don’t want to be on the wrong side of the assault weapons ban debate or gun violence prevention measures,” said Tracy Egan, of the North Side Chapter of the Million Mom March. “But now our work continues to educate the public and lawmakers about the need for strengthening the assault weapons ban.”