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Panel OKs Bill to Limit Firearm Clips : Legislation: Assembly committee reverses its earlier action. A man whose wife was slain in San Francisco shooting testifies in favor of the measure.

September 02, 1993|JERRY GILLAM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SACRAMENTO — An Assembly committee Wednesday reversed itself and narrowly approved a bill to sharply reduce the number of rounds that a firearm's ammunition clip may legally hold.

The vote followed tearful testimony by Steve Sposato, a father who lost his wife in a recent San Francisco high-rise shooting massacre.

"Can you tell me how to tell a 1-year old that her mommy is dead?" Sposato asked the panel as he appeared with his daughter, Megan, at the witness table.

"My life is completely shattered," he said. "My daughter's life is completely shattered. I can't bring my wife . . . back. I am asking you for a change to make this state and country a safer place for Megan and her generation."

Sposato's wife, Judy, was one of eight people killed and six injured last July when Gian Luigi Ferri went on a shooting rampage with several semiautomatic weapons and 50-round ammunition clips in a San Francisco law office building. Ferri committed suicide by firing a bullet through his head as the police closed in on him.

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee voted 11 to 9--the minimum margin needed for approval--in favor of a bill limiting ammunition clips to 15 rounds for pistols, 10 rounds for rifles and six rounds for shotguns. The measure, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Van Nuys), now goes to the Assembly floor.

The same bill was recently killed when the Ways and Means Committee gave it only a 10-8 vote, but Roberti received permission for seek reconsideration.

The action represented a defeat for the National Rifle Assn. and the California Rifle and Pistol Assn., both of which vigorously opposed the bill.

When he introduced the legislation last March, Roberti said gun ammunition clips with unlimited capacity "expose the public to the unwarranted danger of excessive bullets." Republican Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren subsequently endorsed the measure.

An opponent of the bill, Steven Helsey of the NRA, told the committee, "People who ought not to go to jail will go to jail" under the proposed clip limits.

Another foe, Gerald Upholt of the California Rifle and Pistol Assn., said the legislation would increase state costs because of the lawsuits and additional prison inmates that it would generate.

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