The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Randy Barrett (202) 481-1256 or Steve Carpinelli (202) 481-1225

U.S.-Modified Assault Weapons Fuel Mexican Drug Violence


decades, it has been illegal to import foreign-made assault weapons
into the United States. But American importers like Century
International Arms have discovered legal ways to maneuver around the law
and sell such firearms in the U.S. - guns that regularly find their way into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, according to a new investigation.

The joint probe by the Center for Public Integrity, the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication, FRONTLINE, InSight, and the Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism
offers an unprecedented look inside the circuitous route traversed by
Century Arms' WASR-10 assault rifle. It winds from a Romanian factory
through a Vermont warehouse where the guns are refitted to wholesalers
and then gun dealers on the border, and finally into the hands of cartel
henchmen engaged in a bloody firefight in the Mexican state of Sonora.
The rifle is a modified AK-47 design, a semiautomatic with a
high-capacity magazine.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 theoretically bars such weapons from entry
into the U.S. It blocks imports of all guns except those with a "sporting purpose,"
such as hunting or target shooting. But gaps in the law allow Century
Arms to change out parts of the WASR 10 to make it a legal, "American
made" weapon - with features that would otherwise be barred and a price tag of about $500.

Some 50 members of Congress have pleaded with the Obama administration
to close what they believe are loopholes in the "sporting purposes"
test, but the Justice Department says the current law works just fine.

Read the full story.

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