RE “BRAZEN weapon fire chills police’’ (Metro, July 30): Two things are contributing to the rise in assault weapons on the streets of Boston: allowing the federal assault weapons ban to expire in 2004, and the Bush administration’s refusal to enforce the ban on the importation of assault weapons.
Under the 1968 Gun Control Act, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was given the authority to ban the importation of civilian versions of military-style assault rifles. This import restriction is independent of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and was not affected by its 2004 sunset.
Unfortunately, under the Bush administration, the ATF quietly stopped enforcing this import ban. As a result, inexpensive foreign-made AK-47s and other military-style assault weapons have flooded the US market.
Assault weapons are readily available in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Weak gun laws in the northern New England states allow criminals easy access to these military-style weapons.
Congress needs to strengthen and reinstate the assault weapons ban, and President Obama needs to direct the ATF to return to enforcing the import ban on assault weapons.
Director New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence Watertown