For Release: Monday, May 3, 2004
Representative Jim Moran (D-VA), Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC), and DC and Virginia Law Enforcement Officials Warn of Public Safety Threat Posed by Rifles That Can Penetrate Armor Plating and Destroy Aircraf
Washington, DC – Area law enforcement and public officials warned at a 10:30 AM press conference today of the homeland security threat posed by 50 caliber sniper rifles and endorsed federal legislation introduced by Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) to ban these military-bred weapons. Fifty caliber sniper rifles can penetrate armor plating, pierce rail cars carrying toxic chemicals, and destroy aircraft. Currently being used by U.S. troops in Iraq, 50 caliber sniper rifles are accurate from over a mile, yet under federal law are sold in the United States with fewer restrictions than a standard handgun. Bolt-action 50 caliber sniper rifles are legal in the District of Columbia. The guns have already been banned in Los Angeles, CA. In March of this year, Contra Costa County, CA, and the New York State Assembly also voted to ban them. A vote is pending in the New York State Senate.
Tom Diaz, VPC senior policy analyst and author of numerous VPC studies on the threat posed by 50 caliber sniper rifles, states, “The Violence Policy Center commends Representative Moran for taking action to ban these weapons of war. Fifty caliber sniper rifles give terrorists, militia groups, and common criminals the same firepower as the U.S. Army. They have already been used against America’s police, and have turned up in the arms caches of homegrown militias planning to assassinate public officials. If anyone is looking for the warning signs, they are here. These are the ideal tools for terrorists and must be banned before the unthinkable happens.”
The VPC first identified the threat posed by 50 caliber sniper rifles with its landmark 2001 study Voting From the Rooftops: How the Gun Industry Armed Osama bin Laden, Other Foreign and Domestic Terrorists, and Common Criminals With 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles. Subsequent VPC studies have exposed the environmental safety threats presented by these guns’ ability to penetrate from a distance bulk fuel and chemical tanks and other high-value targets, as well as their ability to destroy commercial aircraft. All of the VPC’s studies are available at www.vpc.org.