THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 6, 1998
Banning the Importation of Modified Assault Weapons
Announcement: Today, in response to a previously issued memorandum,
the President announced that the Treasury Department has concluded
that more than 50 kinds of modified assault weapons are generally
not importable because they accept large capacity military magazines.
Up to 1.5 million rifles whose importation had been temporarily
suspended may be affected by this decision.
On November 15, 1997, in his radio address to the nation,
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.
Under current law (the 1968 Gun Control Act), the Treasury
Department has the obligation to restrict the importation of
firearms unless they are determined to be "particularly suitable
for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes." 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 --do not meet the sporting purposes test and are generally
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.
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.
Up to 1.5 million firearms whose importation had been suspended
during the review may be affected by this decision. Importers
will be notified in writing and given an opportunity to respond.