Gun manufacturers are taking orders for semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines that may soon become legal again after a 1994 federal ban on assault-style weapons expires next week, says the Consumer Federation of America. The Washington Post reports that the federation says “assault weapons will be more lethal and less expensive” without the ban and argues that police “may be forced to adopt a more militaristic approach” as greater numbers of firearms flood the market. The Senate approved a renewal of the ban earlier this year, but it was part of a broader bill that included measures opposed by the White House. House GOP leaders have given little indication that they plan to back an extension of the ban, and President Bush — who said in 2000 that he would support an extension — has not pushed the issue. Advocates of the law have purchased full-page newspaper advertisements that criticize Bush for not acting. Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and more than 70 other police officials will hold a rally today urging Bush to back an extension.
The National Rifle Association urges members to lobby against the extension of what the group refers to as “the Clinton gun ban.” The measure was championed and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. “We have come too far in the past 10 years not to pull out all the stops in the next week and a half to ensure this ban expires as Congress intended, and becomes nothing more than a sad footnote in America’s history,” the group said on its Web site. Robert Ricker, a former executive director of the American Shooting Sports Council who now serves as a consultant for groups that favor stricter gun controls, said manufacturers hope to capitalize on fears that the ban could be reintroduced at any time. “You’re going to see an incredible buying frenzy,” Ricker said. “Fall is the prime buying season for guns. I think the gun industry’s mantra is going to be ‘Buy your wife a high-capacity magazine while you can.’ ”