For Release: Tuesday, June 15, 2004
New York State Legislators Warn of Public Safety Threat Posed by Rifles That Can Penetrate Armor Plating and Destroy Aircraft
Albany, NY – The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today offered its strong support for legislation sponsored by New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Member Patricia Eddington to ban 50 caliber sniper rifles. Fifty caliber sniper rifles can penetrate armor plating, pierce rail cars carrying toxic chemicals, and destroy aircraft. Currently being used by U.S. troops in Iraq, 50 caliber sniper rifles are accurate at distances of more than a mile, yet under federal law are sold in the United States with fewer restrictions than a standard handgun. The guns have already been banned in Los Angeles, CA, and Contra Costa County, CA.
Joining Assembly Speaker Silver, Assembly Member Eddington, and others at a Capitol press conference, Tom Diaz, VPC senior policy analyst and author of numerous VPC studies on the threat posed by 50 caliber sniper rifles, stated, “The Violence Policy Center commends Speaker Silver and Members of the New York Assembly for taking action to ban these weapons of war. These anti-armor rifles can take out light armored vehicles, are capable of turning commercial jetliners into bombs on the ground, and of knocking helicopters out of the air. And, they are capable of bursting open and igniting railcars and stationary tank farms containing extremely hazardous, volatile, and explosive chemicals.”
The VPC first identified the threat posed by 50 caliber sniper rifles 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 environmental safety threats presented by these guns’ ability to penetrate from a distance bulk fuel and chemical tanks and other high-value targets, as well as their ability to destroy commercial aircraft.