For Release: Wednesday, May 14, 2003
VPC Study, “Officer Down” Assault Weapons and the War on Law Enforcement, Reveals That One in Five Law Enforcement Officers Slain in the Line of Duty Is Killed with an Assault Weapon
More Than 20 Percent of Assault Weapon Police Deaths Occurred in Texas
WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s promise that he will allow the federal assault weapons ban to expire in September 2004 will keep America’s police at the highest possible risk, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) warned today. The VPC study “Officer Down” Assault Weapons and the War on Law Enforcement, which was released last week, reveals that at least 41 of the 211 law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty between January 1, 1998, and December 31, 2001, were killed with assault weapons. More than 20 percent of the law enforcement officers slain by assault weapons during the study period were from DeLay’s home state of Texas. DeLay’s announcement coincides with National Police Week.
VPC Legislative Director and study author Kristen Rand states, “Majority Leader DeLay has placed his loyalty to the National Rifle Association over his responsibility to protect public safety. With the gun industry openly evading the law, now is the time to strengthen the federal assault weapons ban, not celebrate its scheduled end.”
DeLay’s position puts him at political odds with both President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft who have each expressed support for renewal of the assault weapons ban.
The law, passed in 1994, bans certain models of semiautomatic assault weapons, as well as high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Immediately after the law was enacted, the gun industry moved quickly to make slight, cosmetic design changes in their “post-ban” guns to evade the law. Today, gunmakers openly boast of their ability to circumvent the assault weapons ban.
“Officer Down” explains how the firearms industry has evaded the current ban, and how assault weapons continue to pose a stark threat to America’s law enforcement personnel. The report lists the known incidents of police officers killed by assault weapons from 1998 through 2001, including year, state, manufacturer, model of assault weapon, and caliber. It also offers expanded narratives for 15 of the law enforcement shootings that occurred during this period.