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Since the adoption of .50 BMG rifles by military sniper units, there has been a growing gun control movement in some states, including California, New York, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Illinois, to ban civilian possession of .50 BMG rifles and ammunition. Bill AB50 in California, passed in 2004, known as the .50 Caliber BMG Regulation Act of 2004 classifies all .50 BMG rifles of any action type as assault weapons, which are illegal to import into the state or transfer to any but a state agency or dealer licensed to purchase them. The bill's sponsor, California Assemblyman Paul Koretz, claimed that the .50 BMG "would be an ideal choice for use in an act of terrorism."
However, .50 BMG caliber rifles have lengths usually between four and five feet (1.2-1.5 meters) and weights from 20 to 40 pounds (10-20 kg), making a large .50 caliber rifle similar in weight to an olympic sized barbell, sized similar to a pair of skis. This makes them unwieldy and difficult to conceal, and are a rarity in crime statistics. For example, the Violence Policy Center is only able to document 4 actual uses of .50 BMG rifles by criminals, and only accounts for a total of 18 additional cases in which a .50 caliber rifle was recovered from the possession of a criminal without the gun having been used in a crime. The General Accounting Office prepared a report in 1999, in which it stated that the ATF had only received a total of 18 "traces" for 50 BMG rifles related to criminal activity for rifles made by the largest of 50 BMG manufacturers, Barrett. Of these only one "trace" related to claimed actual use of a rifle, and deals with a highly controversial event itself, the Waco siege of the Branch Davidian ranch by the ATF and FBI