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Assembly Version of Assault Gun Ban Makes It to the Senate Floor

Times Staff Writer

The Assembly version of a bill to ban most military-style assault weapons cleared its final Senate committee Monday and was sent to the upper chamber floor where it could be voted upon next week.

Before his bill received 8-1 approval of the Appropriations Committee, Assemblyman Mike Roos (D-Los Angeles) amended the swiftly moving measure to make it more closely conform to a bill carried by Senate leader David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles).

As the bills have progressed through the legislative maze, Roberti and Roos have tried to eliminate differences in the competing versions so as to minimize the emergence of new political opposition.

Roos said that barring complications, his bill could be acted upon by the full Senate as early as Monday and that the Roberti measure could be taken up by the Assembly the same day.

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Both bills would outlaw by model and manufacturer about 60 semiautomatic rifles, shotguns and pistols declared to be “assault” weapons whose functions as sports or recreational firearms are, in the words of the bill, “substantially outweighed by the danger that (they) can be used to kill and injure human beings.”

Effective next Jan. 1, it would be a felony in California to import, manufacture, sell, loan or transfer an assault weapon. Mere possession could result in a state prison or county jail sentence. Owners of assault weapons that were legally obtained by June 1 could register them with the state Department of Justice until 1991.

Sponsored by top-level law enforcement officials, the two bills were given a high priority following the Jan. 17 murders of five elementary schoolchildren by Patrick Purdy, a deranged petty criminal who sprayed their playground with an AK-47 assault rifle. He also wounded 29 classmates, a teacher and then shot himself dead.

It is considered unlikely that the Legislature will send two nearly identical bills to Gov. George Deukmejian, who favors banning assault weapons. Thus, it probably will be up to a conference committee of the Senate and Assembly to decide later this month which bill would make California the first state in the nation to prohibit most military-style semiautomatic assault guns.

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Although both are highly competitive lawmakers, Roberti and Roos have cooperated closely to quickly move the legislation and each clearly would like his name to receive top billing as author of the nationally publicized legislation.

Without fanfare, Roos on Monday included in amendments to his bill one that named the proposal the Roos-Roberti Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989.

Roberti’s competing bill now in Assembly Ways and Means Committee contains no such title. “But there will be,” Roberti said Monday, noting that it would list his name first as the author.


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