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Anti-Gun Organization Takes Aim on Assault Weapons

September 19, 1989

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ Two anti-gun organizations sought grassroots support for stricter gun laws as the death toll from a shooting rampage at a printing plant rose to nine.

Kenneth Fentress, 45, died Monday afternoon, said a spokeswoman at Humana Hospital University. Fentress suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and leg during last Thursday’s rampage.

The plant worker was one of 13 wounded when Joseph T. Wesbecker sprayed the Standard Gravure Corp. with gunfire from an AK-47 rifle. Wesbecker, who then killed himself, had been on permanent disability leave from the plant for the past year because of mental illness.

In a full-page ad Monday in The Courier-Journal, the Louisville Council on Peacemaking and Religion called for the abolition of assault weapons, saying it felt ″compelled to say enough is enough.″

The group said that society shares part of the blame for allowing the assault weapons to be sold legally.

″The blame can no longer be placed solely on the psychologically disturbed individuals who find ways to acquire these deadly weapons and who use them with such abandon,″ the ad said. ″The accomplice to the crime is the legality of their acquisition.″

Pat McCuen, co-director of the council, said the ad was an exercise in grassroots democracy.

″Most peole are starting to feel like they’re under siege. The United States is starting to look like a war zone.″

Also Monday, Handgun Control Inc. placed a three-quarters page ad in the Louisville newspaper featuring Sarah Brady, wife of former presidential press secretary James Brady, who was injured in the attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981.

The ad sought contributions to finance lobbying efforts for ″sensible, effective gun laws.″

″This is your chance to break the gun lobby’s death grip on Congress,″ Mrs. Brady said in the ad. ″Together, we can beat the National Rifle Association ... and keep handguns out of the wrong hands.″

William Smith, NRA representative of the Kentucky League of Sportsmen, said legislation to ban weapons would not prevent similar attacks.

″You can’t legislate against a nut,″ he said.

The gun shop owner in Louisville who sold Wesbecker the AK-47 and a MAC-11 pistol said he had decided to quit special ordering the semiautomatic weapons for customers.

″The weapons are so controversial right now that we just don’t want to fool with them any longer,″ said Jack Tilford, owner of Tilford’s Gun Sales.

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