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Federal Assault Weapons Ban Should Be Reinstated, Panel Says

State Assemblyman Mike Feuer leads a panel discussion about gun laws and gun violence. California has the toughest gun laws in the nation, Feuer says.

Update, Aug. 16 1:30 p.m.: The California Assembly's Public Safety Committee approved Feuer's resolution, calling on President Obama to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons, with a 4-2 vote.

“The recent tragedy in Aurora underscores—as have so many previous tragedies--the need for a national assault weapons ban," Feuer said in a statement Thursday. "How many more Americans must die in mass shootings before we take this obvious, common-sense step? Here in California we’ve outlawed these deadly, military-grade weapons. But that’s not enough. I urge the federal government to re-authorize the ban.”

The measure, a joint resolution, must be approved by the state legislature and can then be passed on to California's congressional representatives without the signature of the governor.

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Congress needs to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons, according to local elected and police officials who participated in a .

Assemblyman Mike Feuer organized the discussion in response to recent gun violence in Colorado and Wisconsin. About 150 people attended the event held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

"No matter how you feel about the Second Amendment, no one likes gun violence," said Feuer, who represents the 42nd Assembly District, including Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Westwood, Brentwood, Sherman Oaks, Studio City and North Hollywood.

Feuer announced that he has introduced a resolution in Sacramento calling on Congress and the president to reauthorize the federal assault weapons ban which lapsed in 2004. Feuer cited statistics saying that 750 people have been shot by assault weapons since the ban expired, 350 of them killed.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca reported that since that ban lapsed, a large influx of assault weapons, primarily from Russia and China, have come into the U.S. for consumer purchase.

"Do we really need military weapons to protect ourselves in this country?" asked Baca.

"[The United States] is no place for weapons designed as weapons of war," said Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Michel Moore.

"What law-abiding citizen needs assault weapons?" asked Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Kortez, who represents the 5th District.

State has tough gun laws

California’s rate of gun-related deaths is lower than in other states, both in terms of homicides and suicides, Feuer said. He credited the city’s and the state’s strict gun laws, calling them the "toughest in the nation."

Moore gave the state of California, the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County a grade of "A" on gun control laws. Moore also gave the United States a grade of "F," citing the federal assault weapons ban not being renewed as a primary reason.  

Koretz said the Second Amendment may guarantee the right to bear arms but it doesn’t prevent government from placing restrictions on guns.  

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge agreed, saying he believed that people would eventually come to accept restrictions on guns. He pointed out that people were initially resistant to smoking bans and drunken driving laws, but they been proven to work.

Guns vs. People

The age-old question of whether guns or people are the problem was raised.

"People kill people with guns," Moore said, adding that you can also kill with an ax handle but can’t walk into a movie theater and kill many people with that ax handle.

Baca, a former member of the National Rifle Association, said be believed that most Americans were afraid of guns but felt that they needed a gun to be safe and to protect their home.

Koretz said that when he served on the West Hollywood City Council, the city passed one of the nation’s first bans on assault weapons, which eventually led to the state ban. Later, West Hollywood passed one of the nation’s first bans on guns known as "Saturday Night Specials."

Koretz noted that the NRA routinely opposes any type of gun control law, even one as seemingly benign as registering bullets to the people who buy them. He said the nation needs a strong gun-control organization to counter the NRA.

Background checks

An audience member said guns were not the problem, that stronger background checks were needed before a person could buy guns or ammunition. That remark brought strong applause from the audience as well as a few boos.

Koretz responded that background checks do not prevent access to guns. Baca said background checks can only go so far because they merely provide a snapshot of an individual at a particular time.

Baca called for restrictions on how much ammunition a person should be able to buy in a week or a month’s time.

Baca also questioned the need for people to own 30, 40, 50 or more weapons, pointing out that a person would have to hire people to shoot all those weapons at the same time.

Feuer, who will be termed out of the Assembly at the end of this year, is running for Los Angeles City Attorney in 2013. Koretz and LaBonge have endorsed him.

What do you think of about banning assault weapons? Tell us in the comments below.

Barry Cullison December 18, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Like to justify murder do ya. Because all your facts and stats ain't working. So what do we do ???? Nothing???? Is nothing for you or me? Would a little change to make sure these killings stop really lower your testosterone levels? ARE DEAD CHILDREN OK WITH YOU??????? Put your stats where your mama never kissed you.
Spyder Dalton December 18, 2012 at 07:00 PM
If removing guns for self defensive purposes will stop shooters from killing people, then remove the locks on your doors from your homes so it will stop burglaries. Don't forget to put the "lock free zone" sign on your front lawn and see how that works for you!
Barry Cullison December 18, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Nobody wants your guns fool. We want the gun violence to stop. You phony heroes always spout if you had been there with your enhanced appendage that history would be different. GO TO HOLLYWOOD poser. I don't think removing guns would work either so find some other ignorant analogy. Hey is white feather and lash larue now a spyder? Or are all of you guys from the same fossil?
Budrick December 19, 2012 at 03:26 AM
F.B.I. STAT for 2010 total firearm murders 8,775 handguns 6,009 rifles 358 shotguns 353 other guns 96 firearms, type not stated 1,939 an assault rifle is a rifle but a rifle does not mean its an assault rifle. so out of almost 9,000 people you only care about a SELECT FEW HUNDRED????? So thoughtful of you!
Anabell Jones January 10, 2013 at 11:43 PM
Hmm no! How about people get a license to have a gun, like take a training course and teach gun safety http://www.airsplat.com/documents.asp?Link=airsoft-safety

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