Yesterday’s admission by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that the agency had issued import permits for a shipment of approximately 7,500 AK-47s and other assault rifles from Romania clearly demonstrates the need to significantly strengthen the federal assault weapons ban as well as the separate set of rules that apply to imported firearms, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) stated today.
Not just renew but “significantly strengthen.” Not just the AWB, but import laws as well.
It didn’t work, so do it again, ONLY HARDER
The shipment, initially seized by Italian authorities who suspected the weapons were being smuggled into the U.S., was in fact headed for Century International Arms, an assault weapon importer. Century International Arms sells a wide variety of firearms, including imported assault weapons, that can be viewed on the company’s website located at http://www.centuryarms.com. VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “This situation starkly demonstrates the gaping loopholes in the federal assault weapons ban, as well as the Bush Administration’s lax and irresponsible enforcement of the separate rules that apply to imported firearms.”
Because the current federal assault weapons ban – set to expire on September 13, 2004 – is too weak, it cannot stop the import of such weapons. Under the separate law that applies to imported firearms, the Bush Administration has clear authority to exclude such guns from import, but ATF’s weak interpretation of the statute allows the import of AK-47s and other assault weapons.
I find it really interesting that the original definition of “loophole” was “a small hole or slit in a wall, especially one through which small arms may be fired.” So we have “gaping loopholes,” “irresponsible enforcement,” and “weak interpretation.”
And that has been the gun-control mantra since this argument began. No matter what they pass, it’s never enough. It doesn’t affect gun violence, but it can’t have been an error in the philosophy, they just didn’t implement it properly. Even after England banned all semi-auto weapons and all handguns and gun crime went up, it wasn’t evidence of a failure in the policy, but insufficient implementation.
This is the definition of “cognitive dissonance.”
Rand states, “There are two possible ways to fix this. One, the Bush Administration can halt such imports with the stroke of a pen using existing executive authority that applies to the import of firearms that are not suitable for ‘sporting purposes.'” President George H.W. Bush exercised this authority in 1989 to temporarily halt assault rifle imports after Patrick Purdy, armed with an imported AK-47, killed five and wounded 30 in a California schoolyard.
“The other way to remedy the situation is for Congress to pass a strengthened federal assault weapons ban that clearly bans these imports. The current federal ban is too weak. It simply does not apply to these guns. If the current federal assault weapons ban is merely renewed, imported AK-47s and other foreign-made assault rifles will remain perfectly legal,” adds Rand.
Don’t hold your breath, Kristen. Neither of your ideas will “fix” the problem, and if you weren’t so blinded by your fixation on guns as the cause of the problem, you’d understand that.
Here’s the AP story on the legal importation of these “terrorist-grade” weapons:
By CURT ANDERSON
The Associated Press
4/28/2004, 3:13 p.m. CT
WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S.-bound shipment of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles and other combat-type weapons, seized by Italian authorities who suspected they were being smuggled, actually have legal permits to be imported, American officials said Wednesday.
About 7,500 AK-47s, AKM rifles and other weapons worth an estimated $6 million were seized April 20 aboard a Turkish-flagged ship in the port of Gioia Tauro. They were bound for New York from Romania.
At the time, Italian authorities said the guns were hidden aboard the ship.
But Andrew Lluberes, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the weapons actually were cleared by U.S. authorities. “The permits are valid,” he said.
A 1994 law prevents the U.S. gun industry from making, importing or selling military-style semiautomatic weapons.
But under ATF regulations, a properly licensed company can ship such weapons to a “custom bonded warehouse” in the United States. There, they are disassembled and their key firing components destroyed. The remaining parts can then be reconfigured into a weapon that will meet the letter of the 1994 law and can be sold legally in the United States.
Two U.S. law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the weapons seized in Italy were being shipped to a Century International Arms Inc. facility in Georgia, Vt. The company’s Internet site bills Century as “North America’s largest importer/exporter of surplus firearms and accessories.”
An official at the company, which is based on Boca Raton, Fla., refused to comment Wednesday.
Good for them. Apparently CAI shares President Bush’s feelings as regards the media.
Dean Boyd, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said American and Italian authorities continue to investigate the case. The weapons remain in Italy.
Why? They have legal importation permits, why hold them?
And what about those deadly “assault Mausers”? Were they properly permitted, too?