For Release: Thursday, November 19, 2009
Washington, DC–In a letter sent today to the White House, America’s six national gun violence prevention (GVP) organizations–the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Violence Policy Center, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Freedom States Alliance, Legal Community Against Violence, and States United to Prevent Gun Violence–as well as 21 state and regional GVP groups strongly urged President Barack Obama to use his executive powers to ban the import into the U.S. of the FN Herstal Five-seveN armor-piercing semiautomatic pistol. [See http://vpc.org/obamaletter.pdf for a copy of the letter.] A Five-seveN was used in the Fort Hood attack earlier this month that left 13 dead and 34 wounded. The Belgian-made weapon, widely available on the U.S. civilian market, is also a favorite of Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs), who refer to it as the “mata policia,” or “cop killer.”
In the letter, the 27 organizations state:
“While we urge you to join us in pushing for other much-needed policy changes to help reduce America’s epidemic of gun violence that were also relevant to the Fort Hood shooting, such as gaps in the federal background check system that allow suspected terrorists to legally buy guns and the ready availability of high-capacity magazines (including the 20-round magazines used by the Fort Hood shooter), preventing the importation of any more Five-seveN handguns is an important step that can be accomplished immediately through administrative action by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)–without the need for any action by Congress.
“Under longstanding federal law, ATF has the clear authority to prohibit the importation of any firearm or ammunition unless it is ‘generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.’ This provision of the 1968 Gun Control Act has historically been used to exclude from import many non-sporting firearms, including so-called ‘Saturday Night Special’ handguns, ‘Street Sweeper’ shotguns, and many foreign-made assault weapons. The FN Five-seveN handgun is clearly the type of firearm to which Congress intended the import restrictions to apply.”
The letter details the fact that despite a voluntary agreement between FN Herstal and ATF to restrict the civilian sale of potentially armor-piercing ammunition for the pistol, “a quick search of the Internet identifies several sources for supposedly banned ammunition.”
Noting that when “the Five-SeveN’s availability is combined with the easy accessibility of complementary armor-piercing ammunition it becomes not only a direct threat to law enforcement, but a potential national security threat as well,” the organizations urge that the President “act today to prohibit the importation of the FN Five-seveN handgun as well as any 5.7X28mm ammunition that has armor-piercing capabilities….”