Committee Approves Firearms Limitations
Apr. 09, 1985
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ A legislative committee has voted to put strict limits on the sale of high- powered firearms such as the Uzi semi-automatic used at a McDonald's restaurant last July when 21 people were slain.
The measure, sponsored by a San Francisco lawmaker who was wounded during the city's ''Zebra'' shootings in the early 1970s, was opposed by the National Rifle Association, which said the bill violated personal rights.
The Assembly Public Safety Committee approved the bill by Assembly Art Agnos and sent it to the Ways and Means Committee on a 4-2 vote.
Agnos initially sought an outright ban on the manufacture or sale of so- called ''assault weapons,'' but to win the votes for committee approval, he he agreed to an amendment allowing their sale only to persons who pass background checks by the state attorney general's office.
That condition already applies to the sale of machine guns.
Agnos said semi-automatic military firearms such as the Uzi used in the San Ysidro McDonald's massacre last summer and similar ''weapons of war are being purchased over-the-counter, cash-and-carry'' with fewer restrictions than on the purchase of an ordinary handgun.
NRA spokesman Keith Gaffaney, who identified himself as a former Los Angeles police officer, attacked the bill.
''We're addressing the wrong issue when we say we're going to ban this because it potentially can be used for the wrong purposes,'' he said.
San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara said the semi-automatic weapons can be converted into illegal automatics ''in a matter of seconds.'' He said his department had 43 cases in the past two years - mostly involving drug dealers - in which semi-automatic weapons were involved.
''These are weapons of war. They are made to kill people, and they are all over California,'' McNamara said. ''There is no legitimate use for these. Nobody hunts deer with them.''
Agnos was one of several people wounded in the Zebra shootings, whose victims were white and assailants black. As many as 14 people were killed in the random shootings, which occurred in late 1973 and early 1974.