Ban on Assault Weapons Expires

With the recent expiration of the federal ban on assaultweapons, questions linger as to whether the bill will be reinstatedby the Bush administration.

In 1994, President Clinton signed the decadelong bill as a part of the Violent Crime Control and LawEnforcement Act.  It outlawed the sale of 19 types ofsemi-automatic weapons, and ammunition clips of 10 rounds ormore.

According to CNN reporters, President Bush, asupporter of the ban, has not provided any verbal or writtenstatements about the issue.  Bush has yet to lobby Congressfor its reauthorization.  The bill was set to expire unlessCongress pushed to renew the law.

The sale of Tec-9s and other weapons are nowlegal and this causesgrowing concerns of violent upheaval. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein composed the bill after threemass shootings in California took place in the early nineties.

 “The bill’s not perfect: we could havewritten a better bill, I just didn’t know how craven the gunmanufacturers would be” said Feinstein.

Community activists also feel the prolongingof the ban’s renewal will lead to escalated violence.  MarionWright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund, thelargest child advocacy organization stated,

“Today our nation takes a grievous and giantstep backward by allowing the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban to expire,despite the backing of police chiefs across the country and thesupport of nearly three-fourths of registered voters and majorityof gun owners.”

Edelman feels the administration hasdisregarded the safety and protection of American citizens,particularly children by missing the deadline to vote on thelaw.

“The rate of firearms deaths among childrenunder age 15 is 12 times higher in the United States than it is in25 other industrialized countries combined.  Between 1979 and2001, nearly 93,000 children were killed by firearms,” saidEdelman.  “That is more than all the American soldiers killedin the Vietnam War.  While we have just passed the mark of1,000 military deaths in the Iraq war, 2,911 children and teensdied from gunfire in America in 2001 alone.”

Despite the initial ban, there was a loopholebecause of a grandfather clause in the law.  Assault weaponsand ammunition clips that were manufactured prior to the banremained on the market over the past ten years with altered namesand features.

Some foreign made guns such as the Uzi andAK-47 are still banned under a 1989 law that prohibits the importof specific weapons.

According to gun sellers and manufacturersthere has not been and increase in sales or orders for any of thelegally banned weapons since the expiration.