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Public Statements

Regarding the Reinstitution of the Assault Weapons Act

Location: Washington, DC

REGARDING THE REINSTITUTION OF THE ASSAULT WEAPONS ACT -- (Extensions of Remarks - September 15, 2004)

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, the 1994 assault weapons ban has expired and our nation is again vulnerable to guns known to most in the law enforcement community as "the weapons of choice for criminals."

My bill would reinstate the repealed criminal provisions relating to assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices, and make America safer.

The House Republican leadership opposed reauthorizing the 1994 Assault Weapons Act and President Bush, though he had said he supported it, did nothing to help keep the law alive.

Indecisiveness. Flip-Flop. Isn't that what the other party calls "saying one thing and doing another'?

Because the President steadfastly refused to put his leadership-or lack thereof-where his mouth is and help renew the ban, it has expired without so much as even a vote in the House of Representatives.

From this Chamber, for the past 3 years, I have been highlighting the President's efforts on behalf of the rich and big corporations at the expense of working families and small businesses. Mr. Speaker, sadly, I once again must speak of the damage our President is inflicting on the average American.

There is no reason why we should let assault weapons back on the streets. Do people need an assault weapon to protect their home? No! Do people need an assault weapon to hunt? No! Do people need an assault weapon to target shoot? No! Semiautomatic weapons are killing machines with absolutely no positive value in any sensible community and lifting this ban has put these weapons of death back in the hands of criminals.

A Bureau of Justice Statistics survey published in November 2001 reported that almost 7 percent of State inmates and more than 9 percent of Federal inmates carried military-style semiautomatic weapons in carrying out the crime for which they were convicted. In 1997, roughly 43 percent of inmates who carried a military-style semiautomatic or fully automatic weapon fired it and more than 25 percent of them killed or injured their victim.

Mr. Speaker, the expiration of the Assault Weapons Act favored gangs, terrorists, drug dealers, and other criminals, and put in danger my children and yours, and our heroes and protectors, the police officers.

Our local police are not prepared for the reinstitution of assault weapons to our streets. The bulletproof vests that we give our police officers are no match for the guns that are going to be back out in our neighborhoods. And we are going to allow criminals to carry large-capacity clips with over 50 rounds, when our police officers can only respond with 10 to 15 rounds?

Every single law enforcement organization, including the Fraternal Order of Police and the National Sheriffs Association, supports our efforts to reinstitute the Assault Weapons Act. I would support my law enforcement officers, and the safety of our communities and of this Nation over any gun manufacturer any day.

President Bush sent America's youth unprotected-in unarmored HUMVEES and without bulletproof vests-to war in Iraq, and now has been instrumental in bringing back to America's neighborhoods weapons of war to threaten police officers and law abiding citizens.

Moreover, we know terrorists are now exploiting the weaknesses and loopholes in our gun laws. A terrorist training manual discovered by American soldiers in Afghanistan in 2001 advised al-Qaida members to buy assault weapons in the United States and use them against us.

The Assault Weapons Act has respected the rights of gun owners. Only criminals and terrorists have been kept from their guns of choice.

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