WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced the Imported Assault Weapons Bill, which would require the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to exercise its existing authority to ban the import of assault weapons that are not suitable or readily adaptable for sporting purposes, such as the imported Serbian AK-47 that was used to kill 3 and wound 14 others in Hesston, Kansas on February 25, 2016.

“Cheap foreign assault weapons are a favorite tool of cartels, mass shooters, and even ISIS, which used guns that had been imported to the United States to carry out the Paris attacks,” said Speier. “They give these individuals the power to kill and wound scores of victims in seconds, and that’s why the ATF has the power to ban them. Now we have to stop letting NRA lobbyists control what kinds of weapons come to our shores, and close this loophole before more people end up dead.”

She introduced the bill during her monthly address on the House floor remembering the victims of mass gun violence in the United States. Speier spoke the name of every person killed in a mass shooting in February 2016, saying, “May the dead rest in peace, the wounded recover quickly and completely, and the bereaved receive comfort. These are the faces of Americans gunned down because we lack the guts to do anything about gun violence.” The names will be added to the memorial wall she has created outside of her Washington office.

Congresswoman Speier’s full February address can be viewed here
Congresswoman Speier’s January address can be viewed here

Inexpensive, imported assault weapons are commonly used by drug traffickers and cartels. Studies have shown that as many as 59 percent of the firearms trafficked from the United States to Latin America are first imported legally and sold in the United States. And these weapons don’t just impact the United States: One of the guns used in the November 2015 Paris attacks was originally imported into the United States and sold legally before entering the illegal gun trafficking market.

The bill is supported By: Violence Policy Center, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence united with the Million Mom March, Washington Office on Latin America

Current law allows the ATF to ban the importation of these assault weapons, but NRA lobbying has prevented the agency from exercising this authority. The Imported Assault Weapons Bill would (1) ban the importation of assault weapons and parts, including assault rifles, assault pistols, and assault shotguns as defined in the Assault Weapons Ban of 2015; (2) direct ATF to publish a list of those firearms that have been banned or approved for importation; and (3) direct ATF to report to Congress on the implementation of this Act.