For Release: Thursday, May 8, 2003
WASHINGTON, DC The Violence Policy Center (VPC) announced its strong support for the “Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2003,” legislation introduced today by Representatives Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and John Conyers (D-MI). The legislation would renew a 1994 federal law banning certain assault weapons. More importantly, the bill would significantly strengthen current law to address limitations in the ban that have allowed the gun industry to circumvent the law.
The current assault weapons ban will end on September 13, 2004, unless Congress and the President act and pass new legislation.
The gun industry has successfully circumvented the current law, designing and marketing assault weapons that incorporate slight modifications to evade the ban. The gun industry markets a wide variety of such “post-ban” assault weapons. “These guns are assault weapons, but they are not banned by current law,” states Kristen Rand, VPC legislative director. These “post-ban” guns incorporate features that are the essence of an assault weapon, design characteristics that make it easy for a shooter to simply point as opposed to carefully aim the weapon to quickly spray a wide area with a lethal hail of bullets. These design characteristics make assault weapons especially attractive to criminals and distinguish them from true hunting weapons. Today, “post-ban” versions of AK-47s and AR-15s, guns banned by name by the 1994 law, are flooding the civilian market. A post-ban AR-15 clone manufactured by Bushmaster was used by the Washington, DC-area snipers to kill 10 and injure three in October 2002.
The McCarthy-Conyers bill is modeled on California’s assault weapons ban. The California law was passed in 1999 to improve upon that state’s landmark 1989 legislation to ban assault weapons in the wake of the Stockton schoolyard massacre. Adds Rand, “The updated California law has successfully prevented the gun industry from manufacturing and marketing “sporterized” assault weapons. This should be the goal of any new federal law.”