G.I. George

Art by Karen Fiorito

Filtered:“Let the Carnage Begin”

On Monday, a 10-year federal ban on assault weapons, signed by President Clinton, expired.

A clause directed that the ban would not be renewed unless Congress specifically reauthorized it. The Republican Congress declined to bring it up for a vote.

Statements by President Bush before the ban’s expiration:

“It makes no sense for assault weapons to be around our society.”

—Houston Chronicle, August 12, 1999

“The president has made it clear he supports the extension of the assault weapons ban,” said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan.

Newsday, December 9, 2003

“With regard to the assault weapons ban, [President Bush] supports the extension of the current ban.”

—White House spokesperson Claire Buchan on February 23, 2004

And yet . . .

“In March, the U.S. Senate approved, on a bipartisan 52-47 vote, a proposal that would have renewed the ban as an amendment to a gun industry legal immunity bill (S. 1805). The Senate voted down the entire package after the president refused to accept amendments to S. 1805 — the gun lobby’s top priority.”

—Guns and Bluster,

“Some may be inclined to blame the gun lobby for the expiration of the assault weapons ban. But let there be no mistake who is to blame for playing politics with public safety and the lives of law enforcement: George W. Bush. All that the president had to do was call his Republican Party leaders in the House, and the ban would have been saved. Yet he did nothing. In the end, the expiration of the assault weapons ban is another broken promise, and another example of this president’s failed leadership.”

—Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence

“The president’s position is well-known,” the spokesman told reporters aboard Air Force One as Bush flew to Michigan. “Congress is well aware of the president’s position.”

—David Espo, Associated Press,

September 14, 2004

“Pressed by reporters aboard Air Force One, McClellan declined to name a single member of Congress telephoned by Bush to urge extension of the politically controversial ban.”

—Stewart M. Powell, Hearst Newspapers, September 14, 2004

“George Bush made a choice today. He chose his powerful friends in the gun lobby over the police officers and the families he promised to protect.”

—John Kerry, September 14, 2004

Many gun sellers were prepared at least a year ago for the ban’s expiration. Consider the ArmaLite® Post-PostBan™ Rifle Program:

“[W]e’d all like to own rifles without the blemishes that [the Assault Weapons Ban] established. The [Post-PostBan™ Rifle Program] offers customers a way to avoid the risk of delay . . .

“1. Beginning immediately, ArmaLite® 2003 rifles . . . ship with a certificate that will provide customers a pin-on flash suppressor and installation instructions at no charge. Unless earlier legislation makes it illegal for customers to install the device, flash suppressors will ship in summer 2004 to allow time to get the rifle modified even if there’s an opportunity of only a few days. Until the law changes, the flash suppressor will provide a reminder to every customer that it is essential to get out the vote in 2004.

“2. For customers who wish to go an extra step and install a bayonet lug, ArmaLite® will continue to sell pin-on sight bases with bayonet lugs, and will provide installation instructions for gunsmiths.

“3. For customers who wish to be able to convert their rifle to a ‘Pre-Ban’ configuration immediately upon expiration, ArmaLite® will produce and sell AR-10™ collapsing buttstocks (the AR-10™ requires a special collapsing buttstock). It is likely that prompt installation of such a buttstock will allow customers to make other changes at a more leisurely pace.”

—Mark A. Westrom, president, ArmaLite®

Slogan: “Don’t risk a delay. . . prepare for possible AW expiration today with ArmaLite®.”

The crime cited most often in enacting the ban in the first place:

January 17, 1989 (Stockton, California): Shooting 106 rounds in less than 2 minutes, Patrick Purdy killed five small children, and wounded 29 others and one teacher at the Cleveland Elementary School. He used a semi-automatic version of the AK-47 assault rifle imported from China and equipped with a 75-round drum magazine.

“The men and women who work as police officers in this country, and the people who live in this country, are going to feel the brunt of the effect of the assault weapon ban being lifted. Let the carnage begin on Monday.”

—LAPD Chief William Bratton, Nightline, September 8, 2004

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