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Friday, September 10, 2004

How powerful is the NRA? Very. A ten-year old law banning the sale of assault weapons (Uzis, AK-47s, etc.) is set to expire at midnight on Monday the 13th, and nobody is doing a thing to stop it from happening. Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "I think the will of the American people is consistent with letting it expire, so it will expire." Apparently, when Frist says "the people" he means the NRA because polls show nearly 80% of the public support an extension of the ban. The law enforcement community, the medical and health communities, and several other groups also support the extension. Despite this widespread support, the president and the Republican-controlled congress plan to let the Brady Bill, which according to law enforcement professionals has resulted in a 66% decline in assault-weapon-related criminal acts, slip silently into the night. Why? Because the NRA says so, that's why.

The pro-gun lobbying group has said its "decision on endorsing Bush is on hold until after the ban expires," and so Bush has remained silent on the issue despite pledging in his 2000 campaign to pass legislation to extend the ban. But the president isn't the only one at fault, the entire stinkpile of politicians up and down the Beltway can share the blame. Even John Kerry waited until virtually the last minute to support an extension of the ban for fear he may piss off the hunting and fishing component of the electorate. You know, because it's so much easier to snare yourself a deer with a shoulder-fired missile launcher. But at least he finally took a stand, I’ll give him that. Bush has said nothing. Apparently, making America safer means making it easier for criminals and, oh, I don’t know, TERRORISTS to get their hands on these deadly weapons.

Perhaps the most disgusting part of this whole issue is the fact that gun manufacturers are salivating at the prospect of the ban's expiration, preparing for a surge in demand for the banned assault weapons. This from The Hill, a D.C.-based newspaper:
Armalite, a gun manufacturer based in Illinois, instructs customers on its website: “Don’t risk a delay … prepare for possible [assault weapon ban] expiration today.” The company has set up a program called the Armalite Post-ban Rifle Program that lets customers order pre-ban-configuration guns for “delivery immediately upon expiration of the current law.” Customers are allowed to order but must wait until after Sept. 14 for shipment. If the ban is reauthorized after Sept. 14, Armalite says, the customer is responsible “for disposing of the rifle properly.”
It may seem futile at this late date, but please do what you can to stop this from happening. You can petition the president and Congress here and here.

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