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Weapons ban urged after Oakland killings

March 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
One week after four Oakland police officers were gunned down by a semi-automatic weapon, there's a new plan asking the federal government to ban assault weapons. State and local officials are pushing for a crackdown on these weapons.An AK-47 assault rifle was used to kill the four Oakland police officers last Saturday. California has the toughest ban on assault weapons in the nation. But it doesn't stop people from buying in other states.

"We're calling on the Congress to remake gun control a top priority now, and to reauthorize the assault weapons ban right away," said L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

During his presidential campaign, President Barack Obama supported reinstating the federal ban that expired in 2004. In Mexico, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported a renewal of the ban.

Clinton thinks it will help stop the flow of arms used by the drug cartels. An AK-47 assault rifle's firepower was demonstrated by a law-enforcement officer. Law-enforcement universally supports the federal ban on civilians owning such weapons. Federal penalties are stiff.

"National law enforcement officers deserve better, to have a national law in place to insure the sentencings are strict. Federal law and sentencing convicted individuals serve 85 percent of the sentence," said LAPD Deputy Chief Terry Hara.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) authored the original ban and she is preparing legislation that would reinstate it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes the efforts.

The National Rifle Association says politicians are making bogus assertions when they suggest that imposing this failed gun ban will stop violence in the U.S. and escalating violence caused by drug lords in Mexico. The only people this ban would affect are law-abiding Americans. Criminals will not be deterred by a gun ban, they claim.

Last week 65 House Democrats signed a letter opposing any renewal of the ban. So unless there is pressure from the Obama administration, a new national assault weapons ban is unlikely.

Eyewitness News Reporters John North and Subha Ravindhran contributed to this report.


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