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April 6, 1998: Increasing Safety and Security for America's Families

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"It is our sworn duty to uphold the law. It is also our moral obligation -- an obligation to the children and families and law-abiding citizens of our country -- an obligation to stop the terrible scourge of gun violence. As parents, we teach our children every day to distinguish right from wrong. As a nation, too, we must remember where to draw the line. Today, we are drawing it clearly and indelibly."

- President Bill Clinton
April 6, 1998

Today, President Clinton, Vice President Gore, Secretary Rubin and Attorney General Reno hold a Rose Garden event to announce a general ban on the importation of more than 50 non-recreational, modified assault weapons.

Making Streets Safer For Our Children. On November 15, 1997, President Clinton announced that the Treasury Department would temporarily suspend the importation of certain modified assault weapons to review whether these weapons should be allowed to enter the country. Today, the Secretary of the Treasury informed the President that most of the weapons studied should be generally banned from importation.

Banning The Most Deadly Weapons. After taking several months to review the weapons in question, the Treasury Department has concluded that modified semiautomatic assault rifles that accept large capacity military magazines -- or LCMM rifles -- are not "particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes" and are generally not importable. The more than 50 models of firearms affected by today's decision are modified versions of military assault weapons that were banned by the Bush Administration in 1989 or by the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. Most of these models are based on the AK 47 assault rifle, but some are variants of the Uzi, FN-FAL, HK 91 and 93, and SIG SG550.

Safeguarding Our Progress Toward A Safer America. Since passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act, administrations of both parties have repeatedly invoked this authority to ensure that only legitimate sporting weapons are brought into the country. In 1968, the Act was used to ban the importation of Saturday Night Specials and other small and inexpensive handguns; in 1984 and 1986, it was used to ban the importation of the Striker-12 and USAS-12 riot control shotguns; in 1989, it was used to ban the importation of 43 semiautomatic assault rifles; and in 1993, its authority was invoked to propose a ban on the importation of certain assault pistols, though the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 made this executive action unnecessary.

Longest Period of Decline in Violent Crime in 25 Years. Today's announcement is another way President Clinton is working to make America's streets safe for our children. Under President Clinton:

  • 100,000 new police are being added to the street, already more than 70,000 new officers have been funded.

  • 300,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers have been denied guns, since the President signed the Brady Bill into law.

  • Overall drug use is trending down, and is being reduced further thanks to Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey's work and the Administration's comprehensive anti-drug strategy.

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