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through prevention, improved trauma care, and improved rehabilitation.


"Even at one-and-a-half miles, the .50 caliber rifle crashes into a target with more energy than 'Dirty Harry's' famous .44 magnum at point blank range," Senator Feinstein said.  "Today, anyone can get a hold of one of these powerful weapons that has fewer restrictions than handguns."

 --Senator Diane Feinstein, California March 9, 2001


.50 Caliber Weapons--Can California Do the Right Thing?

Earlier this year we at the Trauma Foundation asked the following questions:

  • Why do ordinary citizens need guns that can shoot through armored vehicles, blow up fuel tanks, threaten chemical plants and refineries, take down helicopters, and destroy radar dishes from over a mile away? 
  • Why is the United States willing to make sniper rifles used by militaries around the globe readily available as tools for terror with the clear capacity for assassination and assault on society's infrastructure?

While the gun lobby continues to silence the answers to these questions in the federal arena, prevention advocates in one state--California--have been able to gain a 
forum for the voices of reason. In June, the city of Los Angeles, with support from its police chief, banned the sale of these deadly weapons. Contra Costa County, San Francisco, and a number of cities in the East Bay Public Safety Corridor are considering similar actions. 

The California state legislature is considering a bill to prohibit .50 caliber rifles. California Assembly Bill 50 (Koretz) adds .50 caliber weapons to the code sections of the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 and would require them to be registered. In addition, their manufacture, sale, and possession would be prohibited and any crimes committed with a .50 caliber rifle would be subject automatically to felony or misdemeanor status.

Passage of CA AB 50 makes sense and will provide the residents of California with a measure of protection from easily accessible, deadly, long range weapons of terror. Once again, California has the opportunity to lead the nation and enact gun safety legislation that will protect its citizens, save lives, and prevent devastating tragedies.  But if our state legislature cannot wrest itself free of the gun lobby's influence and do the right thing, California's cities and counties will. In the 1990s, when the state legislature refused to take statewide action against junk guns, California's cities and counties stepped in, banning the manufacture and sale of these unreliable, poorly made handguns. Eventually, the state legislature caught up with its more insightful constituency and enacted state legislation. 


Studies on .50 Caliber Rifles: Other Materials:

(This page produced with support from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund.)

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