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Atf Gives A Break To Gun Importers

Mon., Dec. 15, 1997

A newly completed study by the Congressional Research Service found the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has interpreted “sporting” law so broadly that it tips the scales in favor of importers of assault guns, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

The Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress, remained neutral in its conclusions. However, the report, obtained by the newspaper through the Freedom of Information Act, found the ATF has used virtually “unbridled discretion” to interpret the “sporting” law in a way that has been generous toward gun importers.

Some of the weapons approved in this fashion are now at the heart of the White House’s review of the ATF and prompted the president last month to suspend all assault weapon imports.

In determining whether the shipments should resume, the Clinton administration probably will review a number of internal ATF documents, including the 1989 “sporting purposes” study written for President Bush. Bush ordered the study to help him decide whether to ban permanently the importing of dozens of models of assault weapons.

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