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National Archives

Public Papers - 1990 - July

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Importation of Semiautomatic Weapons


The importation of weapons that meet the legal criteria for sporting purposes will continue to be allowed. The current ban on semiautomatic assault weapons was implemented last July, after comprehensive review, because these weapons have features which render them unsuitable for sporting purposes under the 1968 Gun Control Act. As manufacturers redesign these weapons to eliminate the undesirable features, the manufacturers may reapply for approval to import the redesigned weapons. If the redesigned weapons meet the criteria of the 1968 Gun Control Act, the application will be approved by ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms]. Thus, the requests for imported weapons reported in today's Washington Post were granted because the weapons had been redesigned. This is entirely within the law.

The crime bill which the administration proposed limits the number of rounds in detachable magazines. However, it will not influence the redesign of weapons within the configuration of traditional sporting rifles. I was wrong to suggest that the new crime bill will influence redesigned weapons. The goal of keeping firearms out of the hands of felons is deeply held by this administration. The crime bill will go a long way toward ensuring the right of every American to be free from fear of violent crime.

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