State : Governor Signs Gun Law Legalizing First Ban on Assault Weapons

From Times wire services

Gov. George Deukmejian signed two bills today making California the first state in the nation to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons.

The Republican governor's signature ended a bitter fight ignited by the killing of five children at a Stockton schoolyard Jan. 17 by Patrick Purdy, a suicidal drifter armed with a Chinese-made AK-47.

"These bills are not going to bring back the life of the five beautiful young children who died so tragically on the school ground in Stockton," Deukmejian said at a Capitol bill-signing news conference. "But we do hope and pray that these measures . . . will help our brave and courageous law enforcement community in fighting violent crime and saving innocent lives."

Enactment of the bills today was a major defeat for the powerful National Rifle Assn., which organized a campaign of letter-writing and phone calls to legislators by its more than 500,000 California members.

The NRA has vowed to continue its fight with a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban.

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