For Release: Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Washington, DC – The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today applauded the Contra Costa, California, Board of Supervisors for its 4-0 vote to prohibit the sale of 50 caliber sniper rifles. The ban, intended to serve as a model ordinance for other cities across California, comes only 10 days after the New York State Assembly passed a similar ban on 50 caliber rifles. The Contra Costa legislative effort was spearheaded by The Trauma Foundation, Legal Community Against Violence (LCAV), and the Contra Costa Chapter of the Million Mom March.
The VPC has long advocated a ban on the sale and possession of 50 caliber sniper rifles and was the first organization in the country to alert the public to the dangers posed by these weapons with its landmark 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. Subsequent VPC studies have exposed the ability of these rifles to attack bulk fuel tanks and other high-value targets from a distance, as well as their ability to destroy commercial aircraft.
VPC Senior Policy Analyst Tom Diaz, author of the VPC studies, states, “We commend the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors for taking action to ban these weapons of war. Following California’s lead, we hope other cities across the nation begin to recognize the absurdity of allowing these guns on our streets. Under federal law 50 caliber rifles are as easy to buy as hunting rifles, and less restricted than handguns, yet can penetrate armor plating and are accurate up to 2,000 yards.”
In the wake of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors vote, the VPC warns that industry front groups, such as the Fifty Caliber Institute (FCI), will follow a well-worn pattern of distortion and misrepresentation in their efforts to stop further restrictions on these weapons of war. In response to such efforts, the VPC recently released Really Big Guns, Even Bigger Lies, a report rebutting a series of distortions and misstatements made by the Fifty Caliber Institute, and documenting the group’s twisting of facts and use of erroneous technical data in its attempts to hide the truth about the clear public safety threat posed by 50 caliber sniper rifles.