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Needed: a Hero for Gun Bill

April 20, 1998

The California Assembly soon will have another chance to prove that it would rather save lives than nurse petty grudges. The deciding issue is assault guns--specifically a bill by Assemblyman Don Perata (D-Alameda) that laudably bans such weapons on a generic basis, rather than model by model as in the weak law that was partly struck down by the courts.

In what was to be the final vote on the measure last week, the bill went down by a single vote when two Southern California Democrats--Dick Floyd of Wilmington and Edward Vincent of Inglewood--shockingly withheld their votes, despite previously having voted for the bill. Floyd's decision seems to be based wholly on a political snit with Perata. Vincent is dithering for reasons not entirely clear. But if Vincent and Floyd, along with unshakably pro-gun Democrats Joe Baca of Rialto and Roderick Wright of Los Angeles, deserve condemnation, so does the Republican Party. Kudos to the two Republicans who voted for the Perata measure--Steven T. Kuykendall of Rancho Palos Verdes and Jim Cunneen of San Jose. As for the rest, including the whole Orange County Assembly delegation, all the nit-picking in the world over the size of potentially banned gun magazines and the shape of potentially banned handgrips cannot justify allowing more of these lethal, non-sporting weapons on our streets. And where is the governor? One kind word from Pete Wilson and surely GOP votes would magically appear.

Settling personal scores has long held a high priority in Sacramento. But at what price? Just how many kids have to die before shame sets in at the state Capitol? Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles) said Friday he hopes to get one more supporter sewed up, call another vote and send the ban to Wilson's desk. Who will step up and be the hero?

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