Police Leary As Assault Gun Ban Expires

Unless Congress acts, a 10 year old ban on assault weapons in the US will expire on Monday. The ban was passed in 1994 under the Clinton administration. It prohibits 19 types of semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. President Bush says he supports the ban, but a number of attempts to extend it in Congress have failed.

Some East Texas police departments are not in favor of the ban expiring, as it would make the weapons easily accessible. Gun manufacturers are already marketing the weapons and are said to be ready to sell them as soon as September 14th. For law enforcement if one of the weapons fell into the wrong hands, the concern is they could be outgunned until they could respond with the same kind of firepower.

"I think for a short time on the initial contact my officer would be outgunned, but I do have officers that are carrying automatic weapons in the vehicles," says White Oak police chief Charlie Smith.

"If we believe in our Constitutional rights, we have the right to bear arms so I think it was the first step to starting to take guns away from us," says gun rights supporter Craig Clotz.

Supporters of the ban are urging the President to intervene and convince Congress to act. Many of the law enforcement agencies we spoke to today thought the weapons ban was a political hot potato and declined on-camera interviews.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.