Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left, and Senate President Pro… (Rich Pedroncelli / AP )
SACRAMENTO -- A package of some of the most restrictive gun control measures in the nation advanced in the state Senate on Tuesday after tearful testimony from victims of firearms violence and opposition from gun-owner groups including the National Rifle Assn.
After a nine-hour hearing that saw support from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Senate Public Safety Committee approved seven bills that are part of a package of measures dubbed by Democratic leaders as the "Life Act." The bills still need to be approved by the full Senate and Assembly.
The proposals approved by the panel include requirements for licenses and background checks for those buying ammunition and restrictions that would close loopholes on the possession of assault weapons with detachable magazines.
The panel heard tearful testimony in support of the legislation from victims of gun violence including Paulette Brown of San Francisco, who held up a photo of her 17-year-old son, Aubrey Abrakasa, lying dead on a hospital gurney after he had been shot 30 times.
"I am grieving," Brown told the senators. "Mothers are hurting.”
One measure approved by the committee with Republicans opposed would prohibit the future sale, purchase and manufacture in California of semiautomatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines, and require those who own such weapons now to register them with the state.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said his proposal would close a loophole that has allowed the “the commercialization of mass killing machines” by the gun industry.
"They have a virtually unlimited capacity to shoot and to kill,” Steinberg told the committee.
However, opponents, including a representative of the National Rifle Assn. said the Steinberg bill and others violate their constitutional rights to bear arms, punish law-abiding gun owners and will not reduce violence because the laws will be ignored by criminals.
“This won’t do a single thing to reduce gun violence,” said Jim Ricketts of the group Tea Party United about the Steinberg bill, SB 374. "It is targeting the law-abiding citizens who are the victims.”
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