For Release: Thursday, October 10, 2002
Statement of Tom Diaz, Senior Policy Analyst, Violence Policy Center:
More than three years ago, the Violence Policy Center warned in its report One Shot, One Kill (May 1999) about a growing sniper subculture in the United States. The VPC report described how segments of the gun industry aggressively market military and police sniper rifles to civilians, catering to a subculture whose bloody motto is “One Shot, One Kill.”
The VPC cautioned that the combination of specialized firearms and violence that the sniper subculture encourages has the deadly potential “to roil troubled minds and teach home-grown terrorists or impressionable juveniles how to use the destructive capabilities of sniper rifles to maximum effect.”
Tragically, the nation is now witnessing the horror of that potential realized. We do not yet know the identity of the sniper or snipers terrorizing the Nation’s capital. We do not know what specific firearm is being used. But we do know this grim fact killing human beings, at long range, from concealment, with a single shot, perfectly embodies the grisly sniper motto. This terror is the sniper culture’s “one shot, one kill” brought home to America with a vengeance.
It is clear, the gun industry stands ready to arm and train anyone with the fantasy of being a real life sniper.
The sniper culture in America is fueled by a deadly dance of profit among the gun industry, private sniper schools that teach civilians the deadly skills of sniping, and those who write and market instructional books and videos about sniping and who sell all of the “after market” paraphernalia that sniper’s use.
This is not a random market phenomenon. The VPC has documented how gun manufacturers refer in their advertising to the military and police sniping background of their specialized rifles in order to sell the same guns to civilians. At least one manufacturer refers in its advertising to a sniper school. And this is all bound together in the gun press, magazines and other publications which are effectively arms of the gun industry and relentlessly promote the virtues of sniping rifles and their use.
It is well past time for condemnation of the sniper subculture by our national political leadership, investigation of gun industry marketing practices by Congress and regulatory agencies, and legislation regulating this deadly trade at the state, local, and federal levels.