(Senate - December 11, 1995)

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[Pages S18307-S18310]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                     BAN ON MILITARY-STYLE WEAPONS

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, it would appear that the leadership of 
the other House is threatening to repeal the ban on military-style 
assault weapons. They promised to hold a vote before the end of the 
  According to information from the Speaker's staff, he is apparently 
hoping to sneak the repeal through the House of Representatives in the 
rush to finish business before the Christmas holiday. Although this may 
work in the House, it will not work in the Senate.

  I wrote this legislation. It was incorporated into the 1994 crime 
bill. It was passed by both the House and the Senate after substantive 
and prolonged debate. It has been in place for just 14 months. It 
passed with bipartisan support. It is my commitment, if this comes to 
the floor of the Senate, to wage the mother of all filibusters, to keep 
the Senate in session throughout the holiday break, if necessary, if 
the attempts to repeal this legislation move forward.
  This legislation specifically protects legitimate weapons used for 
hunting and recreational purposes. Congress can either side with the 
citizens of this country who are overwhelming in number who want 
assault weapons off their streets or they can side with the National 
Rifle Association whose selfish ``I want it my way'' persists no matter 
what. The choice should be clear to all of us.
  For the purpose of those who are new to the Congress and for those 
who may have forgotten some of the facts brought out in the debate in 
the last session, allow me to summarize why this legislation is so 
  First, removing military-style semiautomatic assault weapons has the 
widespread support of our citizens. A Los Angeles Times national poll 
conducted between October 27 and October 30 of this year showed that 72 
percent of the American people support maintaining the ban on assault 
weapons. There is bipartisan support for this legislation. Presidents 
Reagan, Carter, Ford, and Clinton endorsed this legislation during its 
debate in 1993. Republican and Democratic elected officials from around 
the country endorsed it, including Republican mayors Rudolph Giuliani 
of New York and Richard Riordan of Los Angeles. Every major law 
enforcement group in this Nation, groups of both rank and file and law 
enforcement management, oppose the repeal. And groups representing 90 
million Americans have endorsed the ban on assault weapons. These 
include physicians who have seen what assault weapons do to human 
flesh, educators who live daily with the militarization of our schools, 
clergy who counsel the victims, victims who have seen their loved ones 
torn apart, trauma physicians whose emergency rooms look like military 
hospitals, and a strong majority of the American people who say 
``enough is enough'' in this gun-happy country.
  My home State of California knows all too well the tragedy of assault 
weapons. There are incidents that really led to my resolve to make this 
the main priority of my legislative agenda in 1993, and I want to go 
through them.
  In 1984, in California, a man by the name of James Huberty walked 
into a McDonald's in San Ysidro with an Uzi. He killed 21 people 
including 5 children; 19 were wounded.
  In 1989, an unstable drifter, with a weapon modeled after an AK 47, 
walked into a Stockton schoolyard and, for no reason, fired 106 rounds. 
Five children were killed, 29 were injured.
  Then on July 1, 1993--and this did it for me--a lone gunman carrying 
two Intratec TEC DC-9 semiautomatic weapons, a pistol and 500 rounds of 
9 millimeter ammunition walked into the Pettit & Martin law firm on the 
33d floor of 101 California Street, a Heinz-designed high rise in the 
middle of downtown San Francisco. He opened fire. Eight people died, 
six were wounded.
  This is the specific action which galvanized it for me. I think the 
American people need to know a little bit more about it and how this 
  These were the weapons he carried. These are the 50-round clips, the 
30-round clips he carried, and so on.
  This is the gentleman--this is Gian Luigi Ferri. He did not buy these 
weapons in California because California had a law. He went across the 
border to Nevada and bought them. He died on the stairwell of this 
building. He was only stopped when he was trapped in the stairwell 
between floors after an employee pulled the fire alarm and that locked 
all the doors so he could not escape.
  This is what Pettit & Martin looked like. These are the shattered 
windows of the office, the bullet holes through the windows--
indiscriminate shooting. And then we get to the victims. These are a 
few of the people who died that day. Specifically, Jody Jones-Sposado, 
30 years old. She was the first victim killed by Ferri. She worked part 
time at a Lafayette, CA, company which organizes corporate conferences. 
She was just visiting 101 California Street on July 1 to file a 
deposition. She was shot five times. She left a husband, Steve Sposado 
and a 9-month-old child at the time by the name of Meghan. Both Steve 
and Meghan came back numerous times to testify on behalf of this 
  This is a young attorney, Jack Berman, 35 years old. He was 
representing Judy Sposado, who lies next to him in the photo, when he 
was killed by Ferri. He was a young labor lawyer. He was preparing for 
his first trial. He was about to celebrate his third wedding 
anniversary with his wife Carol just 1 month later. The two have a baby 
  This below is Mike Merrill, whose wife and children I have had the 
pleasure of meeting. Mike was a vice president of the Trust Co. of the 
West. He was shot through the glass of his window as he sat at his 
desk. You can see 

[[Page S18308]]
his cup of coffee. You can see his computer is still on. Ferri, though, 
shot him. Mike crawled under his desk, and Ferri returned, shot through 
the desk and killed him.
  Mike's wife Marilyn and two children, Kristin, 5, and Michael, 3, now 
reside in Alamo, CA, in the dream house that Mike helped to design.
  Now you know why I feel so strongly about this legislation. There is 
a reason why so many, from so many walks of life, have stepped forward 
to lend their support for this legislation. Our police officers, our 
children, our family members, are being gunned down by revenge killers, 
drug dealers, gang members, carrying military-style assault weapons.
  No question about it. The AK 47 is the gun of choice among gang 
members. They are killed on street corners, in high rise office 
buildings, in front of shopping malls, in fast food restaurants. In the 
last 15 years, in Los Angeles, 9,000 people have died as a result of 
gangs--9,000 people.
  Here are a few facts. According to a search of newspapers throughout 
the country conducted by my office, in the last 7 months, since it was 
rumored that the House would try to repeal the assault weapons ban, 
there have been 76 incidents involving assault weapons in 25 States in 
which 37 adults were killed, 40 were wounded, 7 children were killed, 
and 6 were wounded; 9 police officers were killed including 1 FBI 
agent, and another 3 were wounded.
  The assault weapon is also the gun of choice if you are going to go 
up against a police officer. If he is carrying a six-shot .38, he does 
not have a chance.

  In both California and throughout the Nation we are seeing police 
officers outgunned. Here the assault weapon again gives the edge to the 
perpetrator. No incident better conveys the danger of being a police 
officer than what happened on November 13, 1994, in San Francisco.
  This is James Guelff, a 38-year-old San Francisco police officer, an 
outstanding police officer, often the first to the scene of a crime. I 
attended his funeral.
  He had received a call that there was a man with a gun at an 
intersection. He raced in this squad car to the intersection. He was 
armed with a six-shot service revolver. The gunman that he faced at the 
intersection had more ammunition than the entire compliment of 104 
police officers that eventually came to the scene to try to stop him.
  The only way he was stopped--because he was clad in a Kevlar vest and 
a Kevlar hat--was because of the angle of the bullet that was able to 
penetrate him and eventually kill him.
  I want to read a statement written about this by the commander, 
Richard Cairns, the captain of police, regarding this incident:

       I implore you to do all in your power to stop this attack 
     on the legislation that will save police officers' lives in 
     our country. I am not a person that can be described as an 
     ``antigun'' fanatic. To the contrary, I am a person who 
     believes in the right to bear arms but we do not need assault 
     weapons that are strictly people killers.
       I have seen firsthand the damage these weapons can inflict, 
     as a 20-year-old soldier in Vietnam . . ., to seeing too many 
     shooting victims on our streets as a San Francisco police 
     officer for 25 years . . ., myself being a shooting victim of 
     a barricaded suspect . . ., and witnessing firsthand the 
     carnage at 101 California and finally, holding Officer James 
     Guelff in my arms trying to keep him alive after he was shot 
     at Pine and Franklin Streets.
       I must say that I am an outdoorsman, a hunter, I enjoy my 
     trips to the mountains to carry on the great heritage of 
     hunting and camping. But you will find no Uzi's, TEC-9's, AK-
     47's, or other such weapons of war in my house.

  In February 1995, a rookie police officer by the name of Christy 
Lynne Hamilton, a 45-year-old mother of two, just 4 days on the job--
she had been voted the rookie of her class--was gunned down by a 17-
year-old boy armed with an AR-15 assault weapon.
  On March 28, 1995, Capt. James Lutz, a 30-year veteran of the 
Waukesha, WI, Police Department died in a hail of bullets from a 
Springfield M1-A assault rifle when he intercepted two fleeing bank 
  In November of that same year in Washington, DC, an angry young man 
armed with the same TEC-9 assault pistol took the elevator to the third 
floor of the Metropolitan Police Department where he shot and killed 
three police officers.
  On March 8, 1995, in Chicago, a rookie police officer, Daniel Doffyn, 
was killed by a known gang member armed with a TEC-9 assault pistol.
  On April 26, 1995, in Prince Georges County, MD, officer John 
Novabilski was working at a local convenience store as an off-duty 
uniformed security guard when an assailant armed with a MAC-11 assault 
pistol shot him 10 times.
  These and other senseless deaths are chronicled in a report entitled 
``Cops Under Fire,'' prepared by Handgun Control, Inc. This chart, 
first of all, shows the number of law enforcement officers killed with 
assault weapons or guns sold with high-capacity magazines from January 
1, 1994, to September 30, 1995. If you look at this, you will see, of 
all the weapons traced, 36 percent were with assault weapons or 
firearms with high-capacity magazines. Mr. President, 36 percent of the 
officers killed since January 1, 1994 have been with assault weapons. 
You cannot tell me this legislation will not make a difference.
  The report also makes it clear, and this is very interesting, that 
the bad guys know how to find these weapons. A 1991 survey of 835 
inmates in 4 States--these are inmates now--found that 35 percent of 
them reported owning a military-style or semiautomatic rifle, and 53 
percent of them who were affiliated with gangs reported owning a 
military-style weapon. That is 53 percent of gang-oriented inmates in 
prisons in four States. That should tell us a lot about how these 
weapons are used on the streets.
  Let me for a moment describe what this legislation actually did and 
did not do.
  The law stopped the future manufacture of 19 specific kinds of 
military-style semiautomatic assault weapons. They looked like this. 
Also, the copycat versions of those weapons.
  The law specifically protected 670 guns that have legitimate hunting 
and recreational purposes. Each one is listed. It stopped the future 
manufacture of large-capacity ammunition feeding devices that hold more 
than 10 rounds. In my view, that is the most important thing.
  If you have a five-shot revolver, when the individual reloads, you 
have a chance to get to him and disarm him. If you are carrying 50 
rounds in a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon, you have no 
chance. Someone could enter this Chamber and wipe out 50 people and you 
could not get to him to disarm him.
  In addition, the legislation grandfathered assault weapons 
manufactured prior to the law's enactment. It exempted sales for law 
enforcement purposes, it required a study by the Attorney General and 
it sunsets after 10 years.
  So, as you can see, it is moderate, it is reasonably drawn and it is 
a fair effort. If I had my way, I would ban the possession of assault 
weapons anywhere in the United States of America, but there were not 
going to be the votes for that. This is a moderate law.
  There is also evidence that the ban is working. Similar State laws, 
which have been in place longer, are showing signs of success. In 
Maryland, the ban on assault pistols and high-capacity magazines of 
more than 20 rounds led to a 55-percent drop in assault pistols 
recovered by the Baltimore Police Department.
  In Connecticut, the chief of police of Bridgeport has credited the 
State assault weapons law with reducing assaults with firearms by 30 
  Nationally now, this legislation has only been in effect for 14 
months, but we are beginning to see a decrease in the use of assault 
  In 1993, the year before the ban went into effect, just 19 
specifically named assault weapons accounted for 8.2 percent of all 
traces. In 1994, the year in which the ban became effective, these 
traces for these 19 weapons fell to 6.3 percent. And since the ban 
became effective on September 13, 1994, through the end of last month, 
the share of traces represented by all assault weapons fell to 4.3 
  Thus, we have seen a decrease in the likelihood that criminals will 
obtain one of these weapons, and one of the very real reasons for that 
is that the price is going up because of the shortage of the weapons. 
So they are not as easy for a criminal to obtain.
  The use of these guns to kill police officers has also been 
decreasing. In 

[[Page S18309]]
1994, when the law was not in effect for most of the year, the Handgun 
Control study found that assault weapons accounted for 41 percent of 
police gun deaths where the make and model of the weapon were known.
  In 1995, this proportion has fallen to 28.6 percent, a 30-percent 
  So cop killings with these weapons are down. Criminals have not 
switched from killing police with assault weapons to killing them with 
other guns. Police deaths from guns in 1995 are running 16.5 percent 
below the 1994 pace.
  Yet, despite the hard facts, despite the sound reasoning, despite 72 
percent of the American people wanting to sustain this ban, here we are 
once again waging the same battle. I am really amazed, and I have to 
ask people: What hunter needs an assault weapon to kill a duck when 
most States limit the number of bullets in a clip to three?
  What hunter needs an assault weapon to kill a deer when most States 
limit the number of bullets in a clip to seven, and I think only one 
does 10?
  What target shooter needs a weapon of war to enjoy the sport?
  Indeed, who besides drug dealers and hit men, revenge seekers and 
lustkillers find any utility in weapons intended to kill as many people 
as possible as quickly as possible? And how on Earth can we turn our 
backs on law enforcement's leadership and rank and file throughout this 
  So I urge every American to join this crusade. We must prevail. If 
the issue is raised in the Senate, I promise that the reasons to 
preserve this legislation will be exhaustively detailed for the Record 
time and time again. I promise that the stories of every victim of an 
assault weapon shooting that we can find will be told on this floor and 
that the horror that these weapons are bringing to our streets are made 

  In conclusion, I ask unanimous consent that some personal statements 
from family members who have lost loved ones to assault weapons gunfire 
be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

       Lindsay Hempel, who, as a 15-year-old school sophomore, saw 
     friend, Mark Goodin, murdered:
       ``I was talking to my mother when a cop walked over to make 
     sure I was ok. As he walked over I heard one of the boys say 
     Mark had died. I asked the man and he said, `Yes, your friend 
     has died. I'm sorry.'
       ``When I heard that, my stomach dropped. I looked over to 
     Mark and all I saw was a bright yellow bag that they covered 
     him with. The first thing that came to my mind was that I 
     prayed and Mark still died. But then I realized that since I 
     was so sure that he was going to be alright, he is. He's in a 
     place where nothing this terrible can happen.
       ``Later, I found out that the bullet that killed Mark went 
     through the trunk, through an ice chest and into his back. He 
     died instantly. The gun used was a Yugoslavian assault rifle. 
     The cops told us that we are very lucky that the bullet 
     didn't go through Mark and into Kevin who was sitting in the 
     passenger seat. They were also surprised that all of us are 
     still here today.
       ``I think that it is really sad that there's a chance that 
     when your kids go out at night, or any time at all, they may 
     never come back. You shouldn't have to even think that that 
     is even possible, but it is.''
       Margaret A. Ensley, founder of Mothers Against Violence In 
     Schools (MAVIS):
       ``My son was murdered while he was trying to get an 
     education. Something is wrong when we can no longer view 
     schools as a sanctuary for our children. Maybe your attitudes 
     about gun control would be different if one of your children 
     were hurt or killed by a gun.
       ``Our children are afraid to go to school, movies, 
     libraries and parks. We must give them back their childhood. 
     We can't if everyone is armed.
       ``To Senator Dole and others in support of overturning this 
     weapons ban, I say the only thing that makes me a victim of 
     violent crime and not you, is not economics, religion, 
     culture or beliefs. The thing that separates us is 
     circumstance. Don't walk in my shoes before you decide to do 
     the right thing.''
       Carole Montgomery, on the death of her husband's brother, 
       ``I am writing this letter to you to show my family's 
     support for the Assault Weapons Ban. My husband's brother was 
     murdered by a crazed gunman who went out and legally bought 
     an assault weapon for the sole purpose of killing. My 
     brother-in-law worked at NBC in New York City.
       ``He was trying to point this madman out to the police when 
     he made eye contact with his murderer and was shot once in 
     the back. He died four hours later on the operating table. 
     Everyone in New York City has called him a hero, but it is of 
     no solace for the people he left behind.
       ``We are appalled that Congress is trying to overturn this 
     ban. Theron was murdered a few weeks before the ban went into 
     effect. Had it been in effect, maybe my brother-in-law would 
     still be alive.''
       Carole Ann Taylor, on the death of her 17 year old son, 
     Willie Browning Brooks IV:
       ``One bullet fired from that AK-47 struck my son's back, as 
     he opened the screen door to his friend house. Willie dialed 
     911 for help. That call was the last living act he finished, 
     before collapsing from the gunfire.
       ``Five months short of his eighteenth birthday, one bullet, 
     fired from an AK-47, shattered my whole being. An assault 
     weapon of mass destruction and someone with access to it 
     ended Willie's dream of becoming an adult and a productive 
     citizen in this America we call civilized.
       ``My last memory of my child, that slips within my dreams, 
     is my son laying on a gurney, eyes half opened and lifeless.
       ``Why? I ask, as any mother would.
       ``I ask this 104th Congress, as well as Senator Bob Dole, 
     `Was I in error to raise my son to live in a civilized 
     society or would military training for war have been more 
     appropriate in sustaining his life?' If in fact this is a 
     civilized society, the assault weapon must remain on the ban 
       ``I cannot bring the son I loved so much back no matter how 
     long I cry or pray, but I can, in his precious memory, work 
     to save others from gunfire.
       ``My son Will Browning Brooks looked to me for parental 
     protection and guidance, and as his parent as well as a 
     citizen of the United States, I am looking to you, the 104th 
     Congress, for protection and guidance.
       ``Willie's death by gunfire is not acceptable to me. Not 
     even one death by gunfire should be acceptable to any of us. 
     These assault weapons have no place in any town, city or 
     state in America.''
       Kenneth Brondell, Jr. letter to Senator Dole on the death 
     of his sister, Christy Brondell Hamilton, a Los Angeles 
     Police Officer:
       ``On February 22, 1994, my sister, Los Angeles Police 
     Officer Christy Brondell Hamilton, only four days out of the 
     Police Academy, was shot and killed. She was slain by a 17 
     year old boy who had first killed his father. The boy called 
     the police to summon them to the scene with the intention of 
     `killing some cops.' He then used his father's Tec-9 Assault 
     Rifle to take his own life.''
       ``I served in Vietnam. I am a Firefighter and the son of a 
     retired Los Angeles Police Sergeant. I have pictures of 
     direct ancestors who were veterans of the Civil War and World 
     Wars I and II. My family knows what weapons are for and we 
     have used them.
       ``The notion, however, that anyone who wants to own a war 
     rifle can purchase one and thereby have the ability and even 
     the right to determine who among us should live and who 
     should die is incredible to me.
       ``Sadly we cannot stop all violence, but the assault 
     weapons ban has made a step toward limiting the access of 
     these tools of war from those who would threaten the safety 
     of us all. The world will be a better place if one more 
     police officer completes his or her watch, if one more 
     commuter has an uneventful ride, and if one more office 
     worker returns home at the end of the day.
       ``Will the Congress of the United States repeal the assault 
     weapons ban and help turn our cities into the likes of 
     Belfast or Beruit? Our Democratic Government works. Civilians 
     have no need to hold the power of violent insurrection 
     against the United States. From the Civil War to Waco, Texas, 
     our democracy has rebuffed violent overthrow and anarchy. The 
     tools of war only serve to harm those who the government is 
     charged to protect.
       ``Please save innocent lives. Please spare others the grief 
     that my family has known. Support the ban on assault weapons. 
     One of the lives you save may be someone you love.''

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. I ask unanimous consent that a list of law 
enforcement leaders supporting the need for this legislation be printed 
in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

      Law Enforcement Opposing a Repeal of the Assault Weapons Ban

       Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas.
       Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
       Fraternal Order of Police.
       International Association of Chiefs of Police.
       International Association of Police Officers.
       National Association of Police Organizations.
       National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
       National Sheriffs Association.
       National Troopers Association.
       Police Executive Research Forum.
       Police Foundation.
       California State Sheriff's Association.
       California Police Chiefs Association.
       Alameda Police Chief Burnham E. Matthews.
       Alameda County Sheriff Charles C. Plummer.
       Auburn Police Chief Michael A. Morello.
       Bear Valley Police Chief Marcel J. Jojola.
       Campbell Police Chief James A. Cost.
       Carmel Police Chief Donald P. Fuselier.
       Chino Police Chief Richard Sill.
[[Page S18310]]

       Delano Police Chief Gerald M. Gruver.
       Dixon Police Chief Rick C. Fuller.
       Downey Police Chief Gerald C. Caldwell.
       El Monte Police Chief Wayne C. Clayton.
       Exeter Police Chief John H. Kunkel.
       Escondido Police Chief Michael P. Stein.
       Fremont Police Chief Craig T. Steckler.
       Gardena Police Chief Richard K. Propster.
       Glendale Police Chief James E. Anthony.
       Half Moon Bay Police Chief Dennis K. Wick.
       Hawthorne Police Chief Stephen R. Port.
       Huntington Beach Police Chief Ronald E. Lownberg.
       Imperial County Sheriff Oren R. Fox.
       Irvine Police Chief Charles S. Brobeck.
       Irwindale Police Chief Julian S. Miranda.
       Laguna Beach Police Chief Neil J. Purcell.
       La Habra Police Chief Steve Staveley.
       Lodi Police Chief Larry D. Hansen.
       Lindsay Police Chief Bert H. Garzelli.
       Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block.
       Manhattan Beach Police Chief Ted J. Mertens.
       Menlo Park Police Chief Bruce C. Cumming.
       Montebello Police Chief Steve Simonian.
       Monterey Police Chief F.D. Sanderson.
       Morgan Hill Police Chief Steven L. Schwab.
       Newport Beach Police Chief Bob McDonnell.
       Novato Police Chief Brian Brady.
       Oakland Police Chief Joseph Samuels, Jr.
       Oxnard Police Chief Harold L. Hurtt.
       Palm Springs Police Chief Gene H. Kulander.
       Patterson Police Chief William D. Middleton.
       Petaluma Police Chief Dennis DeWitt.
       Piedmont Police Chief Jim Moilan.
       Pittsburg Police Chief Willis A. Casey.
       Placer County Sheriff Edward N. Bonner.
       Redding Chief Robert P. Blankenship.
       Rialto Police Chief Dennis J. Hegwood.
       Richmond Police Chief William M. Lansdowne.
       Sacramento Police Chief Arturo Venegas, Jr.
       San Buenaventura Police Chief Richard F. Thomas.
       San Carlos Police Chief Clifford Gerst.
       San Diego County Sheriff William B. Kolender.
       San Luis Obispo Police Chief James M. Gardiner.
       San Mateo County Sheriff Don Horsley.
       San Francisco Police Chief Anthony Ribera.
       City and County Police Captain Richard J. Caims.
       Santa Ana Police Chief Daniel G. McCoy.
       Santa Barbara Police Chief Richard A. Breza.
       Santa Clara Police Chief Charles R. Arolla.
       Santa Cruz County Sheriff Mark S. Tracy.
       Santa Cruz Police Chief Steven R. Belcher.
       Santa Paula Police Chief Walter Adair.
       Seal Beach Police Chief William D. Stearns.
       Sonoma Police Chief John P. Gurney.
       Sonora Police Chief Michael R. Efford.
       South Pasadena Police Chief Thomas E. Mahoney.
       Suisun City Police Chief Ronald V. Forsythe.
       Tiburon Police Chief Peter G. Herley.
       Tracy Police Chief Jared L. Zwickey.
       Twin Cities Police Chief Phil D. Green.
       Ventura Police Chief Richard F. Thomas.
       Walnut Creek Police Chief Karel A. Swanson.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Congress should not and must not repeal the assault 
weapons ban. I thank the forbearance of the Chair.
  Mr. CRAIG addressed the Chair.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Idaho.