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Wanted: 4 More Acts of Courage

September 03, 1989

Earlier this year, when Gov. George Deukmejian signed into law the nation's first statewide ban on military-style assault weapons, he put the people's welfare ahead of his own ideological predilections and his strong partisan attachments. His decision was an act of political courage we hope he will match when, as seems likely, four critical pieces of firearms legislation reach his desk later this month.

Foremost among these is AB 497, which was introduced by Lloyd G. Connelly (D-Sacramento). The measure, which already has passed the Assembly, goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee next week and it is expected to win quick passage there and on the chamber's floor. The Connelly proposal would extend the current 15-day interval between the purchase of a handgun and its delivery to all sales of all firearms. That brief, two-week wait would allow the Department of Justice to ensure that the buyer is not a person prohibited from gun ownership under the terms of the bill. These would include people found mentally infirm under law, convicted felons, those found guilty of certain violent misdemeanors within the previous 10 years and individuals prohibited from possessing a weapon as a condition of probation.

AB 497 is supported by every major law-enforcement agency in the state. Its provisions are so self-evidently reasonable that its only opponents are lawmakers so cowed by the political power of the professional gun lobby that we are left to suppose that if Hezbollah had a direct-mail operation, these legislators would vote against bans on kidnaping.

Two measures by Democratic Assemblyman Johan Klehs of Castro Valley also demand quick Senate passage and gubernatorial signatures. One, AB 376, would forbid the sale of detachable magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds. The other, AB 565, would ban military-style shotguns with rotary or detachable magazines capable of holding more than five shells. Similarly worthy is AB 1680, which was introduced by Democrat Rusty Areias of Los Banos. It advances the inarguable suggestion that anyone purchasing a handgun be required to complete a basic two-hour safety course.

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