Calif. Governor Signs Nation's 'Toughest' Gun Ban

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Surrounded by victims of one of the worst mass shootings in the state's history, California Gov. Gray Davis Monday signed ``the toughest gun ban in the nation'' aimed at restricting assault weapons.
``For too long, high-caliber weapons of war have been virtually available on any street in any neighborhood,'' Davis told a news conference at San Francisco's Hall of Justice after signing a package of new gun control measures.
``(Now) Californians can proudly claim they have the toughest civil weapons law in the nation,'' he said.
The new laws, which have been opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), set limits on ``copycat'' assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, closing loopholes in gun control legislation passed a decade ago.
They will also restrict Californians to one handgun purchase per month -- a measure supporters hope will stem the flow of weaponry onto the black market and from there into the hands of criminals and juveniles.
One of the authors of the new assault weapon law, Democratic Sen. Don Perata, said it could help prevent tragedies like the April 20 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, by two teen-age gunmen -- one using a TEC-DC/9 assault pistol that will be banned under the California measure.
The measure builds on state legislation passed after a California schoolyard shooting in 1989 which banned specific models of military-style semiautomatic weapons, but left ''copycat'' weapons sold with slightly altered designs and names still legal.
The new California law will ban weapons based on basic characteristics and firepower rather than just model names.
It will also ban the manufacture and sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines, require owners to convert existing magazines to hold a maximum of 10 rounds, and require owners to submit to a background check.
Monday, victims of a 1993 mass shooting in California expressed relief that tougher laws were being put in place.
``(I feel) a lot of happiness, but still a great deal of sadness that lives had to be taken in order to make this possible,'' said Carol Kingsley, whose husband was one of eight people shot to death in a San Francisco law firm office by a disgruntled real estate investor, who committed suicide in the attack.
Davis, a Democrat who ran on a strong gun control platform, reversed the policy of former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, who last year vetoed a similar bill after declaring it a ``maze which would entrap the unwary'' and lead to endless litigation.
Handgun Control, the national gun control lobbying group, praised Davis as a politician responding to a public desire for ''sensible gun laws.''
``Once again, California is a beacon of responsible gun policy,'' the group's chairwoman, Sarah Brady, said in a statement. ``Our neighborhoods, and our schoolyards, are no place for semiautomatic assault weapons and military ammunition magazines that can fire dozens of bullets in a few seconds.''
Opponents of the measure such as the NRA have said the law will be tough to enforce because similar weapons have been in circulation for so long. They have also argued that the bill is so broad that many hunting and sport guns would become illegal.
From Dr. James S. Mortellaro < 7-21-99
When I was but five years old, my dad, who to this day, feels that his son should experience the joys of responsible shooting, brought a shotgun to our Catskill, NY vacation spot. My dad, still with us and still on the rant at age 87, gave me everything he could of himself. And that which he gave included honesty, integrity respect for authority and the lives and property of others. When he spoke, he spoke with me, not to me. And when he spoke, I looked upon him with the greatest of respect and admiration because I did not merely love him, I also valued his words. To me, they were like gold. They still are.
Although I must admit to a period in my life when I was not terribly certain of the truth of his opinions, I soon learned that when he spoke of a thing, it was truth which came out, truth, integrity and honor. His word was his truth and his truth was his honor.
So it was with this in mind, that I read the above. Another truth gone awry. Maybe. Maybe not. The truth as I understand it is that today there is no dad such as mine was to me. There is no nurturing such as I had. There is nothing which even remotely resembles the joy of family with which I grew, joy, love, respect, nurturing, affection, and God help us all, real TALKING to one the other.
We didn't watch TV at the dinner table as many families do. We spoke to each other. At our table sat the matriarch, patriarch (grandmother and granddad) as well as my mom and dad.
To get back to the beginning ... the joy I felt at being able to learn to shoot that shotgun was not something I can explain. It was close to the joy I felt when dad came home one day in 1953, I shall never forget the day, and exclaimed, "It's time we had our own car. And so, I just bought one." I nearly jumped out of my ten year old socks.
My mom on the other hand said, "What? Cheeses, Jim, you don't even know how the hell to drive. What do you mean you just.... blah, blah, blah."
And dad just looked her straight in the eye, the same way he did when he went out and bought us a house in the country, which is exactly what that part of the Bronx, NY was in those days in 1940, the country. She said, "What? Blah, blah, blah..."
But my dad made decisions. God blessed us with him. We had a TV set in 1950, a car in 1953 and by golly, I had the best house on the block when I was born. And by cracky, I also had a 410 Ga, shotgun in my hot little hands in 1948. And I was taught how and when to shoot it. How to handle it. What to shoot at and I was told that I would not touch it without my dad being there to permit me to touch it. I was told how to handle it when hunting, when shooting trap and skeet, how to keep it safe, how to clean it. But most of all, I was taught to respect it's power. Dad taught me all that. So when in 1954 I went for my first hunting license, and was told to take the NRA Hunter Safety Training Course, I passed it without even a sigh. The NRA instructor couldn't imagine a kid knowing so much without taking his course.
So when he asked me how I came to understand so much, I just told him the truth. "Why my DAD taught me, of course!" and thought myself ill used for the question. He beamed. I beamed. And dad, well he just outshone the Crab nebula minutes after it exploded.
And so when I hear about banning guns and banning ammo and banning this, that and the other, I often think back on 50 years of shooting sports which to this day, gives me joy and relaxation. I no longer hunt because I just cannot bring myself to take a life any longer, at least not unless I have to feed my family. But I shoot trap, skeet, sporting clays, high power and pistol. And for an old fart, I don't fair too badly. I can still break 25 clays in trap now and again, and I can still earn me a handicap when I shoot in a tournament. And I love the sport.
But most of all I love my father for giving me the joy, not just of shooting, but the joy of love, compassion, understanding and mostly, of himself. He never held back on anything he ever did for me, for my mother. He gave me what I needed to be able to pick up a weapon and see it for what it is. I never needed trigger locks when I was a kid. Dad never needed to lock it all up. In fact, my dad never had to tell me anything more than once. Because I listened. And I listened because I respected him and because he listened to me. To every word.
So folks, go ahead, ban the crap out of everything you will. There will still be the rush to rampage. There will still be the need for kids to do without guns what terrible things they have done with them. They will merely find other weapons to use. And you, fools and idiots that you all are, you will ban more things, and those who have the need to do wrong, those with anger and frustration in their hearts, will find more with which to satisfy their angst, more with which to kill.
There will, however, come a time when you will all get smart and finally come to your senses; the realization that what should have been banned in the first place, was a society which forgot the basics of being a family. Each in his own words, each in his own way, has created a microcosm of antisocial behavior. The sum total of human knowledge is detracted from and the end result is bedlam. You all deserve what you are getting ... less and less freedom and more and more government, police and laws.
I shall not set foot in a land where I am not able to bear arms. Not because I like to use them or protect myself with them, although theses days, the point is well met, but merely because these are COUNTER to our rights and obligations as humans and as citizens in an ordered society. And these bannings are indicative of living in a decaying society. And I shall not do so. For in the midst of that decay is the stench of rotting, culpable ignorance of the worst kind. A stench which will create an environment for even the maggots to vomit.
And I am too old to give a shit any more. Too old, and too tired. I did my part, my family did it's part. Now, it's up to the rest of you to do yours.
When I was a very young boy, we had a Chinese laundry in our neighborhood. The owner knew our family for many years. But walk in to his shop without a ticket for your shirts and you got a big, "Solly, no tickie, no shirtie!" And he meant it.
Get your tickets now folks. But you gotta earn them. Give unto your children that which they require and take not from the rest of us in your ire. For it is you who should be deprived, not the rest of us who've paid our dues. Go to hell and stay there, please. And stop bringing this country to it's knees.
There's no free ticket to peace and to law and order, not to mention respect for authority and love in it's purest form. No tickets. Can't even buy 'em, folks. These tickets, you gotta earn 'em.
Start now. Please.
Dr. James S. Mortellaro,
Shooter and maimer of innocent clay pidgins. God will punish me for my murdering rampages against these poor nescients. I, too, shall retire to bedlam.