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Stockton Bans Assault Weapons

February 7, 1989

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) _ Lawmakers in the city where five children were shot to death in a schoolyard Jan. 17 have unanimously adopted an ordinance outlawing assault weapons such as the AK-47 used in the attack.

″No one on this council is naive enough to believe that the passage of this ordinance could have prevented the tragedy, but it sends a strong message to the kooks of this land, and more importantly a strong message to the Legislature, that we want to get tough,″ said Vice Mayor Ron Coale.

Gun owners packed the meeting Monday to protest that the ordinance was unconstitutional and could lead to the taking away of all weapons.

″Gun control is one step toward turning America into a totalitarian police state,″ Albert Stokes told the council.

The ordinance makes possession or sale of an assault weapon a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

It takes effect in seven days, after which any semiautomatic weapon found in the city will be confiscated and destroyed.

Council members said action was needed in response to the slayings at Cleveland Elementary School in which Patrick Edward Purdy, 24, sprayed the playground with more than 100 rounds from a semiautomatic version of the AK-47 rifle during recess.

Five children, aged 6 to 9, were killed, and 29 other children and a teacher were wounded in the attack. Purdy, who attended the school as a boy, killed himself with a pistol.

Although the Chinese-made weapon Purdy used was purchased in Oregon, under current law he could have bought it in nearly any city in California for $300 to $400 with no wait and no background check.

Eleven-year-old Raymond Camales, one of two children testifying in favor of the ban, told the council, ″We can’t undo what happened but we can act to prevent it from happening again.″

Similar measures covering the entire state await hearings in the Legislature, and the Los Angeles City Council last week directed the city attorney to draft a ban on such weapons, which are linked to gang violence.

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