For Release: August 17, 2013
Washington, DC — The Violence Policy Center (VPC) released the following statement on Governor Chris Christie’s veto of a bill to ban 50 caliber sniper rifles in New Jersey:
“By vetoing this bill, Governor Christie has prioritized gun industry profits over public safety,” said VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “Fifty caliber sniper rifles can puncture tanks containing hazardous substances from long distances, making them a special hazard for New Jersey’s many chemical plants and refineries. They can also bring down commercial aircraft on takeoff and landing. Yet inexcusably, federal law and all states except California still allow them in civilian hands.”
Under federal law, 50 caliber sniper rifles are as easy to buy as a hunting rifle despite their military-grade firepower, and they are far less restricted than standard handguns. These weapons, used by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, can penetrate armor plating and are accurate to over a mile. In September 2004 California became the first state in the nation to ban them. The District of Columbia has also banned these weapons.
The VPC was the first organization to alert the American 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 exposed the ability of these rifles to attack bulk fuel tanks and other high-value targets from a distance. For more information on the threat posed by 50 caliber sniper rifles as detailed in VPC studies, including the use of these military weapons in crime, see this page.