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State : Governor Signs Gun Law Legalizing First Ban on Assault Weapons

May 24, 1989|From Times wire services

SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian signed two bills today making California the first state in the nation to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons.

The Republican governor's signature ended a bitter fight ignited by the killing of five children at a Stockton schoolyard Jan. 17 by Patrick Purdy, a suicidal drifter armed with a Chinese-made AK-47.

"These bills are not going to bring back the life of the five beautiful young children who died so tragically on the school ground in Stockton," Deukmejian said at a Capitol bill-signing news conference. "But we do hope and pray that these measures . . . will help our brave and courageous law enforcement community in fighting violent crime and saving innocent lives."

Enactment of the bills today was a major defeat for the powerful National Rifle Assn., which organized a campaign of letter-writing and phone calls to legislators by its more than 500,000 California members.

The NRA has vowed to continue its fight with a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ban.

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