Senator Feinstein Re-Introduces Measure to Curb Sales of Powerful .50 Caliber Sniper Rifles
Source: Kalifornia communist Diane Feinstein
(FLI Newswires) Washington, D.C. - March 9, 2001 - U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Kalif.) on Friday introduced legislation to curb the sale of the powerful .50 caliber military sniper rifles in order to make it more difficult for terrorists, doomsday cults and criminals to obtain these deadly weapons.
The .50 caliber rifles, which were used by the U.S. military in the Gulf War to take out Iraq's armored vehicles, can be purchased at thousands of American gun stores, with fewer restrictions than handguns. One of the U.S. military's highest powered sniper rifles, the .50 caliber rifle can tear through a manhole cover, blow holes in a 600 pound safe, pierce an armored car, and take down a helicopter. It is deadly accurate at up to 2,000 yards, or more than a mile away and effective at more than 4 miles.
"Even at one-and-a-half miles, the .50 caliber rifle crashes into a target with more energy than 'Dirty Harry's' famous .44 magnum at point blank range," Senator Feinstein said. "Today, anyone can get a hold of one of these powerful weapons that has fewer restrictions than handguns."
Current law classifies .50-caliber guns as "long guns," subject to the least government regulation for any firearm. Sawed-off shotguns, machine guns, and even handguns are more highly regulated than this military sniper rifle. In fact, many states allow possession of .50 caliber guns by those as young as 14 years old, and there is no regulation on second-hand sales.
"Clearly, placing a few more restrictions on who can get these guns and how easily they are obtained is simply common sense," Senator Feinstein said. "If we are to continue to allow private citizens to own and use guns of this caliber, range, and destructive power, we should at the very least take greater care in making sure that these guns do not fall into the wrong hands."
The legislation, cosponsored by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), would re-classify guns under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), which imposes far stricter standards on powerful and destructive weapons. For instance:
Guns classified under the National Firearms Act may only be purchased from a licensed dealer, and not second hand. This will prevent the sale of these guns at gun shows and in other venues that make it difficult for law enforcement to track the weapons.
Purchases of NFA guns must fill out license transfer applications and provide fingerprints to be processed by the FBI in detailed criminal background checks. By reclassifying the .50-caliber rifle, Congress will be making the determination that sellers should be more careful about to whom they give these powerful, military weapons.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) reports that this background check process takes about 60 days, so prospective gun buyers will face some delay. However, legitimate purchasers of this $7,000 gun can certainly wait that long.
Senator Feinstein originally introduced the legislation in late 1999 with former Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey).
"According to the General Accounting Office (GAO), many of these guns wind up in the hands of domestic and international terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminals," Senator Feinstein said. "One dealer even told GAO investigators that it's only a matter of time before someone fires a round on a range that travels so far it hits a bus full of children."
"Recent advances in weapons technology allow this gun to be used by civilians against armored limousines, bunkers, individuals, and even aircraft - in fact, one advertisement for the gun apparently promoted the
weapon as able to "wreck several million dollars worth of jet aircraft with one or two dollars worth of cartridge."
One doomsday cult headquartered in Montana purchased 10 of these guns and stockpiled them in an underground bunker, along with thousands of rounds of ammunition and other guns. At least one .50-caliber gun was recovered by Mexican authorities after a shoot-out with an international drug cartel in
that country. The weapon was originally purchased in Wyoming. According to recent news accounts, another .50-caliber sniper rifle, smuggled out of the United States, was used by the Irish Republican Army to kill a large number of British soldiers.
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