For Release: Friday, March 12, 2004
Violence Policy Center (VPC) Says Law Must be Strengthened to be Effective
Washington, DC – This Saturday, March 13th, will mark six months until the federal assault weapons ban is set to expire. The failure of Congress and President Bush to act to renew, and more importantly strengthen, the assault weapons ban before September 13, 2004, puts the safety of America’s police and public at extreme risk, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) warned today. Legislation to strengthen current law, the “Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act” (S. 1431 and H.R. 2038), is currently pending in Congress.
Kristen Rand, VPC legislative director, states, “America’s burgeoning assault weapons industry poses a clear and present danger to all Americans. Congress must act now to pass an assault weapons ban that truly bans assault weapons.”
The gun industry has successfully evaded the current ban by making insignificant, mostly cosmetic, changes in the design of banned assault weapons such as AK-47s, AR-15s, MAC-10s, and UZIs and then marketing them as “post-ban” guns. The changes can be as slight as simply removing a flash suppressor from the end of the barrel of an assault rifle and replacing it with a muzzle brake (these two components look almost identical, but perform different functions) or adding a fixed stock. The Washington, DC-area snipers used a Bushmaster “post-ban” AR-15-style assault rifle in a killing spree that left 10 dead and three wounded in 2002. At the same time, new assault weapons have come onto the marketplace, such as the Hi-Point Carbine used in the 1999 Columbine massacre. Pre- and post-ban guns continue to pose an unprecedented threat to the police and public:
- Assault weapons were used to kill one out of five law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty from 1998 through 2001, according to FBI data.
- Assault weapons have been used in some of the most notorious mass shootings since the ban was enacted in 1994, including: the 1997 shooting at the Caltrans Maintenance Yard in Orange, California, where four were killed and two were wounded (AK-47 assault rifle); the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 that left 13 dead and 23 wounded (TEC-DC9 assault pistol and Hi-Point Carbine); the 2000 shooting at the Edgewater Technology office in Wakefield, Massachusetts, that left seven dead (AK-47 assault rifle); and, the 2001 shooting at Navistar International Corporation that took four lives and wounded four (SKS assault rifle).
Adds Rand, “The gun industry has eviscerated the assault weapons ban. The time for Congress and President Bush to act is now.”