The Bush Administration today banned imports of semiautomatic assault rifles indefinitely, pending a review of whether the military-style weapons are being used for sporting purposes.
The step, announced by William J. Bennett, the director of national drug policy, is effective immediately and was taken after officials learned that requests this year from importers to bring in the weapons had already nearly tripled those for all of 1988.
I dug it up last night while nosing around Google to answer a question in email.
This ban is still in effect. It's the reason why, say, an HK-91 is a $3,500 collector's item rather than an $800 gun sold in Wal-Mart. (In 1989, an HK-91 or -94 cost somewhat less than a new Colt AR-15.)
If you were a nerd for foreign military rifle clones, the late '80s, after the passage of FOPA but before this ban by Bush, were the salad days. You could get semiauto Galils, FAMAS bullpups, Beretta AR-70s, Valmets, all kinds of stuff. All cut off with the stroke of a pen.
Presumably, should we ever get a pro-gun-rights president in the White House, it could all be restored at the stroke of a pen, too, but we haven't had one of those since.
Meanwhile, if you're all tore up about the exotic foreign bullpups you're not getting your hands on, here's something to assuage that a little bit: At least in the case of the SA80, you ain't missing much.