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Local News in Brief : Santa Monica Bans Assault Weapons

Santa Monica has joined the growing list of California cities banning assault weapons.

Citing “unprecedented episodes of violence,” the City Council voted unanimously late Tuesday night to outlaw the sale of semiautomatic assault rifles, effective immediately. Possession of the firearms is banned starting May 1.

More than a dozen gun enthusiasts, members of the National Rifle Assn. and gun shop owners protested the law, saying it was unconstitutional and wouldn’t work. They complained the definition of assault rifles is too broad and said the ban would take away “legitimate” weapons from hunters.

But council members were unswayed. Councilman David Finkel, who called assault rifles the “scourge of the country,” said he hoped Santa Monica’s action would encourage the state Legislature to enact a ban. Santa Monica modeled its law after a Los Angeles ordinance that took effect Wednesday, defining an assault weapon as a rifle that can be outfitted with a detachable magazine that holds at least 20 rounds of ammunition.

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