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State Senate Passes Near Ban on Assault Weapons

From Associated Press

The state Senate approved a bill today that would virtually ban the sale and possession of assault weapons, with supporters pleading for action against heavily armed street gangs and critics calling the bill a violation of gun owners’ rights.

The Senate voted 27 to 12 to send the bill by Senate President Pro Tem David Roberti (D-Los Angeles) to the Assembly, where its fate is uncertain. The bipartisan vote, which easily surpassed the simple majority vote of 21 that was needed for passage, followed about an hour of debate.

“I work in a district and live in a district where we are under siege” by street gangs and drug runners, said Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles). “What is prevailing is the law of the gun.”

But opponents of the bill said it would infringe the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms. They called instead for tougher laws against criminals.

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“There’s 1 million people who protected themselves from being a victim of a crime because they have a right to keep and use the weapon of their choice,” said Sen. Don Rogers (R-Bakersfield).

Roberti said his bill would not prevent hunters from using legitimate sporting weapons, and accused the National Rifle Assn. of lying to its members about the legislation’s intent.

He called the measure “rational public policy” and likened it to laws passed by state legislatures to ban machine guns used by gangs 50 years ago.

A similar bill, which virtually bans four dozen specific models of assault weapons, has reached the floor of the Assembly.

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