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2004 Action of Immediate Witness

The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban Law expires on September 13, 2004. This law outlaws nineteen specific semi-automatic and other weapons. Some of these weapons can fire over 120 bullets per minute. These weapons can be spray-fired from the hip. They have high-capacity ammunition magazines and shooters can fire them over a wide area without aiming. These weapons have no practical use in sports such as hunting or target shooting. Their sole purpose is to assault and kill human beings.

This law is not perfect in its present form. Existing assault weapons were grandfathered and the manufacturers’ practice of changing the names and identities of weapons to allow new ones has rendered the law ineffectual. Semi-automatic weapons have been used in several tragic multiple shootings, such as those at Columbine High School in 1999, sniper attacks in Washington, DC, in 2002, and shootings at Case Western Reserve University in 2003.

Despite its imperfections, the existing ban on assault weapons has been shown to decrease the number of assault weapon-linked crimes by 67 percent compared to all gun-related crimes.
If the Assault Weapons Ban is not renewed, AK-47s and Uzis will be legally manufactured and sold in the United States.

President Ronald Reagan supported the original ban. Presidents Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, and William Jefferson Clinton all endorse banning assault weapons. President George W. Bush has expressed support for renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban but has yet to take any action.

Seventy-seven percent of United States citizens and 66 percent of gun owners favor renewal of this ban. Many organizations and individuals have supported renewal, including the mayors and police chiefs of major cities, most law enforcement agencies, the National Council of Churches, the League of Women Voters, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Unitarian Universalist Association General Assemblies have passed a number of resolutions supporting gun control in general and banning assault weapons, including those passed in 1972, 1976, and 1991. Based on these resolutions, the UUA Office for Advocacy and Witness has issued alerts on renewing the Assault Weapons Ban.

Now more needs to be done. Congress has not yet acted. Time is growing short. Less than three weeks remain for legislative action.

THEREFORE the delegates to the 2004 General Assembly call upon the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, their individual members and friends, and affiliated organizations to immediately contact their representatives in Congress and demand that they introduce and pass legislation to renew and strengthen the Assault Weapons Ban.

For more information contact socialjustice@uua.org.

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