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Posted: 9/13/2004 9:51:24 AM EDT
The whole thing is biased but I've put some outstanding items in red.

Monday, September 13, 2004

A Feinstein legacy expires
She sponsored the assault-weapons ban, a legislative victory, after three rampages hit California.

By BETH FOUHY The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – By tonight, the 10-year old federal assault-weapons ban, born out of the carnage of three California mass shootings, will be history - the victim of partisanship and enduring political culture wars.

So while gleeful gun manufacturers prepare for a boom in business as gun owners buy up previously banned weapons like AK-47s, Uzis and TEC-9s, police chiefs like William Bratton of Los Angeles and others have warned of an upsurge in crime as a new flood of weapons hit city streets.

Meanwhile, the law's chief sponsor, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is left urging retailers not to sell the disputed weapons, while hoping for a change in the political environment at the White House and in Congress.

Like many other Americans, Feinstein was horrified by the 1984 shooting rampage at a McDonald's in San Diego County that killed 21 people and the Stockton elementary school yard massacre five years later, where a deranged shooter killed five.

But it was a third California tragedy - the shootings at a law firm in her hometown of San Francisco in 1993 - that convinced her to push for the controversial assault-weapons ban, now set to expire today at 9:01 p.m. Pacific time.

"It was the ultimate shock," Feinstein said in an interview, recalling how a sniper brandishing three semiautomatic guns sprayed bullets through the office at 101 California St., killing eight people and wounding six. Killing lawyers seems to be a more "ultimate" action than killing burger eaters or schoolyard patrons.

"That building is one of the great economic citadels in the city, and you see this prestigious law firm. And then - boom. Someone comes in, aggrieved, and goes right through the place."

Just over a year after the San Francisco shootings, on Sept. 13, 1994, President Clinton signed into law Feinstein's bill, which banned the sale of 19 specific semiautomatic weapons and ammunition clips of 10 rounds or more. Under terms of the legislation, the law was set to expire exactly 10 years later if not renewed in Congress.

While the ban was a significant legislative victory for Feinstein, it had enormous political consequences for Democrats - and, critics say, little practical effect.

Loopholes in the legislation allowed gun manufacturers to keep many weapons on the market simply by changing their names or altering some of their features or accessories.

"The bill's not perfect; we could have written a better bill," Feinstein says. "I just didn't know how craven the gun manufacturers would be." come now Diane, you COULD have written a better bill, you could have just "TAKEN THEM ALL".

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