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 not importable.

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.

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