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Santa Monica shootings rekindle gun control debate in Sacramento

June 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Friday's shooting rampage in Santa Monica is rekindling the debate over gun control in California. Investigators are trying to determine how the gunman was able to obtain his weapons and a large amount of ammunition.

The Newtown, Connecticut, shooting last year spurred a flurry of gun-control measures in Sacramento, many of which are halfway to the governor's desk. The Santa Monica shooting spree is especially giving momentum to tighter regulation of ammunition purchases.

Santa Monica gunman John Zawahri was heavily armed, carrying a duffel bag with more than 1,300 rounds of ammunition when officers killed him Friday.

Monday, Democratic state lawmakers again made the case for more gun control in California. A package of seven bills has already cleared the Senate, including more regulation of ammunition.

In a message to the Assembly to do the same, state Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) renewed his push to force customers buying bullets to pass a background check and obtain a permit. Sellers would also need a permit.

"To purchase a product that has a potential to maim or kill another human being like the tragic deaths that just took place at Santa Monica College, I think it's utterly preposterous that we don't know who's selling it and we don't know who's buying it," said de Leon.

The gun lobby has been strong, fighting every measure. Members say ammunition permits aren't necessary because gun owners already have to go through a background check to buy a weapon.

"Criminals and those who are having mental challenges are the ones that are committing just about all of these crimes," said Craig DeLuz, legislative advocate for the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees. "We need to think about how we keep firearms out of their hands. And you don't do it by punishing law-abiding citizens."

Investigators are looking into whether Zawahri suffered from mental health issues.

This week legislators are making the single largest investment in mental health outside of education: $206 million for treatment when the mentally ill encounter the criminal justice system.

"We would have beds for them then, as opposed to just cycling them through our system, finding themselves out on the street and back and forth and then not being treated at all," said state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the Senate budget chairman.

ABC News has learned from investigators that Zawahri may not have been on record with a clinical diagnosis, something that might have prevented him from buying a gun.


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