Attorney General Lockyer Denounces Demise of Federal Assault Weapons Ban

Lockyer Notes that California's Ban, First in the Country, Remains Firmly in Place

Thursday, September 9, 2004
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today issued the following statement about the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban, part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The federal law is set to expire on September 13, 2004.

"I am deeply troubled by the unwillingness of President Bush to rally Republican congressional members to extend one of the nation's most important public safety laws. The federal ban on these weapons of war has resulted in a drop in the number of assault weapons used in crimes and it has kept our law enforcement officers from being out-gunned by hardened criminals and gang members.

"California in 1989 became the first state to ban these military-type assault weapons. Our law, which is stronger than its federal counterpart, will remain firmly in place for the protection of all Californians. But without the federal prohibition on the manufacture, sale and possession of these killing machines, these weapons will become more accessible to those willing to smuggle them into our state.

"It is important to remember assault weapons are not sporting guns; they are not hunting guns. These weapons are designed for one purpose only: to inflict the maximum amount of damage on the maximum number of people at close range.

"Despite the fact that every major law enforcement agency in the nation supported a national ban, President Bush has reneged on his campaign promise to support extending the ban. By not aggressively living up to his word, the President has placed the political agenda of National Rifle Association before public safety."

California in 1989 became the first state in the nation to enact an assault weapons ban. Sen. Dianne Feinstein succeeded in getting a similar federal law enacted in 1994. Under California law, a weapon that has at least one military-style characteristic, such as the ability to accept large-capacity magazines, or having a short pistol grip, collapsible or folding stock, flash suppressor, is deemed an assault weapon. The federal ban required two characteristics.

Since July 1, 2002, the California Department of Justice has seized 1,020 illegal assault weapons as part of the Attorney General's Armed and Prohibited Persons program.

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