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Public Papers - 1989

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Suspension of Semiautomatic Weapons Imports


I want to announce an action that the Treasury Department is taking today with regard to suspension of imports of certain semiautomatic weapons.

In recently approving a temporary suspension of imports of certain semiautomatic weapons, the President sought to foster a climate in which reasonable, well-intentioned people on all sides of the firearms issue could work out a solution without infringing on the rights of law-abiding hunters and sportsmen. In an effort to ensure that existing laws are being enforced to the fullest extent possible, he ordered the Treasury Department to review the suitability of these weapons for sporting purposes. To date, the Treasury review has disclosed 24 additional types of imported firearms which, by virtue of their general appearance and capabilities, compete directly with those firearms for which import permits were previously suspended. To ensure an orderly and fair review process, the President has authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to expand the temporary import suspension to include these additional 24 types of weapons.

This action will accomplish two things. First, those importers whose permits have already been suspended will not suffer a loss of market to importers of similar weapons during the review period. Second, this action will preclude imports of firearms which might later be found unsuitable for sporting purposes.

The President believes that by working closely with law enforcement groups, sportsmen, concerned citizen groups, and the Congress, we can reach a solution to these problems.

Note: Marlin Fitzwater read the statement to reporters at 1:32 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.

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