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The Assault Weapons Ban

Location: Washington, DC

THE ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN -- (House of Representatives - September 13, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) is recognized for 5 minutes.

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Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, in 1994 Congress passed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The law banned the sale to civilians of 19 types of semiautomatic weapons, but many manufacturers have been able to skirt the prohibition by offering knock-off models. Domestic gun manufacturers were required to stop production of semi-automatic assault weapons and ammunition clips that hold more than 10 rounds, except for military or police use.

The assault weapons ban will expire or "sunset" today unless Congress passes legislation to renew the law. President Bush has stated his support for the assault weapons ban. Unfortunately, the House refuses to act until the President calls on Republican congressional leadership to do so.

The Assault Weapons Ban is supported by virtually every Federal, State and local law enforcement agency, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriff's Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major City Chiefs Association, and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. The ban was supported by Presidents Reagan, Ford, Carter, and Clinton, and by Republicans Tom Ridge and Rudy Giuliani.

Prior to the ban, ATF found criminals prefer assault weapons over law-abiding citizens eight to one. In the 5 years before the ban, assault weapons made up almost 5 percent of ATF crime gun traces. Since the ban, assault weapons have made up only 1.5 percent of these traces-a drop of 66 percent from the preban rate.

As recently as December 2003, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 78 percent of adults nationwide support renewal of the ban. Additionally, 57 percent of people with a gun in their household support the assault weapons ban. The ban does not include hunting rifles and shotguns, which is probably why a majority of hunters support extending the ban today. The greater the availability of assault weapons, the cheaper their price, and the more wind up on the streets.

We need to take action immediately, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to step up and do the right thing by extending this ban.

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Congresswoman Jackson Lee Urges House GOP Leadership to Schedule Immediate Vote To Renew Assault Weapons Ban that Expires Today

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Today, September 13, 2004, the ten-year federal ban on assault weapons is set to expire unless Congress takes immediate action to extend it. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has continued to urge the House Republican leadership to schedule an immediate vote to renew the ban. The Congresswoman has received many calls in support of an extension by local enforcement officers and gun control advocates who have been lobbying for congressional action on the ban. Extension of the ban is supported by more than three-quarters of Americans nationwide. The Senate approved a renewal of the ban earlier this year, but the House has not voted on the matter because the House Republican leadership refuses to allow a vote.

"For ten years, the assault weapons ban has helped keep semi-automatic assault weapons off the market, off our street, and out of the hands of gangs, terrorists, drug dealers, and most importantly our children," Congresswoman Jackson Lee said. "It is imperative that the House Republican leadership schedule an immediate vote to renew and strengthen the assault weapons ban so that these deadly weapons are not allowed on our streets again. These are not the weapons people use for hunting deer or wild game. These assault weapons are designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible."

The ban, which was approved in 1994, prohibits the domestic manufacture, import, and sale of 19 types of semi-automatic assault weapons such as AK-47s, TEC-9s, and Uzis, as well as dozens of other weapons, which are designed to kill quickly and violently. Unlike weapons firing single rounds, assault weapons are designed to spray many bullets into a single area, as opposed to a single target, increasing the chances of hitting innocent bystanders who are in the crossfire.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), there has been a 66 percent reduction in the number of traced crimes committed with assault weapons since the ban went into effect. A study of FBI data by the Violence Policy Center reveals that one in five law enforcement officers slain in the line of duty between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2001 were killed with assault weapons. " This serves as further proof that the assault weapons ban not only needs to be renewed, but intensified," Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee stated, "I am a cosponsor of a bill to renew the ban for another ten years as well as another bill to strengthen the ban by adding weapons to the prohibited list and making it permanent."

Congresswoman Jackson Lee continued, "The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution allows people to 'keep and bear' firearms. The important question is where we should draw the line. People should not be allowed to have shoulder-fired rocket launchers, nor do they need a semi-automatic weapon that can fire off 30 shots in a matter of seconds for recreational hunting. We need to renew and strengthen the federal ban on assault weapons."

The assault weapons ban is supported by virtually every federal, state, and local law enforcement agency, as well as organizations including the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriff's Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major City Chiefs Association, and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers.

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