Charles Cunningham, Director of NRA Federal Affairs, sent the following letter to Members of Congress in response to two "Dear Colleague" letters from Representatives Castle, Shays, Kirk and Ferguson seeking reauthorization of the Clinton Gun ban before its expiration on September 13.
July 21, 2004
Dear Member of Congress:
You may have recently received two letters signed by Representatives Michael Castle, Christopher Shays, Mark Kirk and Mike Ferguson, claiming that various disasters will occur after the federal "assault weapon" ban expires on September 13. To respond generally to the claims, please let me stress several provisions of federal law that these four Members apparently overlooked:
- Firearm dealers are prohibited from selling a rifle or shotgun to a person under age 18.
- Firearm dealers are prohibited from selling a handgun to anyone under age 21.
- It is unlawful to mail or ship any firearm to someone who is not a federal firearm licensee (manufacturer, dealer, etc.).
- The Gun Free School Zones Act prohibits possession of a firearm on school grounds.
- AK-47s and similar foreign-made firearms are prohibited under firearm importation law and administrative rules, which will not be affected by the expiration of the Clinton gun ban.
- Two other guns, among the "19" guns the letters claim will be legal again (both very rare revolving cylinder shotguns) are separately prohibited under the National Firearms Act, which will not be affected by the ban’s expiration.
It is also important to note that the manufacturer of the TEC-9 is no longer in business.
In the July 21 edition of Roll Call, a lead photo appeared with the following caption: "Reps. Mike Castle, holding a SWD M-11 submachine gun, and Carolyn McCarthy address the media Tuesday, pushing for a pre-recess vote to extend the assault weapons ban for 10 years." As you know, the federal "assault weapon" ban has absolutely nothing to do with machine guns or submachine guns. In fact, not a single fully automatic firearm was included in this gun ban. We have sought a retraction from Roll Call in order to set the record straight and counter this deliberate deception, so the debate may be waged over facts, not fiction.
You may have also received a July 13 letter from the Children’s Defense Fund, attempting to associate the gun ban with firearm-related deaths among children. Importantly, only 1% of deaths among children involve firearms of any sort, and only about 1/100th of 1% involve firearms affected by this gun ban.
Moreover, Congress should not put its faith in last-minute predictions of doom and hysteria. Rather, it should focus more on a decade’s worth of police reports, felon and crime victim surveys, studies conducted by the Congressional Research Service, and the U.S. Department of Justice study that Congress required when it passed the gun ban. Uniformly, they have shown that these guns have never been used in more than a small percentage of crimes.
While the number of legally owned semi-automatic firearms by American citizens is now at an all-time high, the nation’s violent crime rate has declined every year since 1991 (three years before the gun ban) and is now at a 27-year low, according to the FBI (and a 30-year low, according to federal crime victim surveys.)
Gun ban advocates have always strenuously exaggerated the misuse of these firearms, but have never addressed the negative impact of the ban upon the millions law-abiding Americans who own these firearms for wholly legitimate defensive, hunting and sporting purposes.
For more information on this very timely and relevant issue, please visit www.ClintonGunBan.com -- view the story and take the quiz. If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact NRA Federal Affairs.
Charles H. CunninghamDirector, NRA Federal Affairs