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Pa. Gov. Rendell presses assault weapons ban

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

HARRISBURG — Flanked by police officers and mayors, Gov. Ed Rendell today called on Congress to enact a federal assault weapons ban and for the state Legislature to revisit gun control measures that failed to win support in 2007.

In response to the fatal shooting of three Pittsburgh police officers on April 4, Rendell said it's time to reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004. Richard Poplawski, 22, armed with an AK-47 and two other guns, is accused of killing officers Eric Kelly, 41, Stephen Mayhle, 29, and Paul Sciullo II, 36. "These weapons have absolutely no purpose except to kill. They can't be used for sport. They can't be used for hunting," Rendell said.

Rendell later acknowledged "this might not be the right time" when asked about a Newsweek report that President Barack Obama's domestic agenda is more focused on the economy and health care. Rendell said U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.., is prepared to move forward with a ban."She'll choose the right time," he said.

At the state level, Rendell called on lawmakers to enact legislation allowing municipalities to enact their own gun control laws. That would enable cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, York, and Reading, to fashion their own legislation, he said. Rendell also asked state lawmakers to approve legislation requiring lost and stolen handguns to be reported.

"Enough is enough," said Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. "We have to protect our police officers, our city and our state."

"We're here today unified and united to support these efforts," Ravehstahl said.

"I hope no other chief has to live through what I lived through that day," said Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper.

"How much blood has to be spilled in the streets of America?" Harper said.




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