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Bay City News Service | May 3, 2005

Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced Friday the introduction of legislation that would classify .50-caliber rifles in the same category as machine guns or sawn-off shotguns.

The legislation would change the .50-caliber's classification as a "long gun,'' requiring all future sales to go through a licensed gun dealer and a background check on the buyer, Howard Gantman, a Feinstein spokesman, reported. If the legislation passed, the Internal Revenue Service would also record all future purchases of the weapon under the National Firearms Act.

The U.S. military commonly uses the large weapon, which California banned in 2004, as a sniper rifle. According to Feinstein, the destructive power of the rifle makes it different than a standard rifle, requiring more safeguards before a person can purchase the weapon.

"For instance, a sniper atop the Washington Monument (with a .50-caliber rifle) could target anybody or anything within a four-mile radius, including the White House, the Capitol, every building on or around the Mall, and aircraft flying in and out of Reagan National Airport,'' Feinstein said in a statement.

The rifles are currently classified in the same category as .22-caliber target rifles and .30-06-caliber hunting rifleS.


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