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Renewing the Assault Weapons Ban

Location: Washington, DC

RENEWING THE ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN -- (Extensions of Remarks - April 22, 2004)


Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in strong support of renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban. In 1994, President Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which banned the manufacture and importation of many semiautomatic assault weapons. This law is set to expire on September 13, 2004, just 144 days away.

In 1995, the FBI reported that trace requests for assault weapons declined 20 percent only one year after enactment of the ban. Since enactment, criminals are using these guns less frequently, and innocent lives are saved every day as a result.

I am proud to join 108 of my colleagues as a cosponsor of H.R. 2038, the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act. This vital legislation will permanently extend the 1994 Act and help keep these weapons out of our country and away from criminals.

If we allow the assault weapons ban to expire, our streets will again be flooded with an arsenal of Uzis and AK-47s-guns which are responsible for pre-ban killings such as the Stockton Schoolyard Massacre and a shooting at the CIA Headquarters.

Twenty percent of police officers killed in the line of duty today are shot using these banned assault weapons. This number is sure to increase if these weapons are more readily available. The weapons banned under current law pose too great a risk to the general public, and especially law enforcement officers, to be legalized. For this reason, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Fraternal Order of Police both support extending the ban.

In addition to this important measure, I have introduced two other pieces of legislation to cut down on shooting deaths.
Approximately 1 percent of the nation's gun stores are the source of 57 percent of the firearms traced to crimes. H.R. 1540, the Crackdown on Deadbeat Dealers Act, would increase the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to investigate record-keeping compliance among these delinquent gun dealers. The second bill is H.R. 821, the Accidental Shooting Prevention Act, which requires chamber load indicators on handguns, allowing gun owners to quickly recognize if their weapons are loaded. I encourage my colleagues to cosponsor these two bills and help reduce the number of gun deaths in America without infringing on the rights of lawful gun owners.

The three pieces of legislation I have mentioned do not unreasonably restrict law-abiding citizens from using appropriate firearms for sporting purposes or self-protection. Rather, sensible gun control prevents firearms from getting into the wrong hands.

My colleagues in the House and Senate must understand how important it is that we continue this ban on assault weapons to prevent parents and children from suffering life-altering senseless violence should these guns again become legal.

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