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Santa Rosa City Council supports federal assault weapons ban

The day after the Petaluma City Council expressed support for the federal assault weapons ban, the Santa Rosa City Council fired off two letters supporting efforts by Sen. Diane Feinstein and Congressman Mike Thompson to curb gun violence.

Both letters referenced the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and 6 adults were killed by a gunman using an assault-style rifle.

"These letters are an appropriate response to a horrific act," Councilwoman Julie Combs said.

The letter to Feinstein, D-San Francisco, supported her efforts to renew and broaden the 1994 assault weapons ban she sponsored and which expired after 10 years.

It includes a ban on weapons with magazines of more than 10 rounds, requires background checks for certain weapons, establishes a buyback program for weapons and exempts from the ban more than 2,200 models used largely by sportsmen.

The second letter urges Thompson, D-St. Helena, in his role as chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, to take a comprehensive approach toward reducing gun violence. The council encouraged the U.S. Attorney's Office to "aggressively prosecute" gun-related crimes under existing laws, but also to explore other measures.

"This could include efforts such as strengthening the use of background checks, improving mental health services, and keeping military-type guns and assault magazines out of our communities, among other efforts," reads the letter. Both are signed by Mayor Scott Bartley.

A handful of residents condemned the council's action, some claiming it was part of a conspiracy to deprive people of their constitutional rights. One resident praised the council.

Councilman Ernesto Olivares, a retired police lieutenant, said he appreciated the letter's emphasis on upholding existing gun laws. He and other council members stressed that the law should not be viewed as stripping people of their right to bear arms.

"It's about reducing gun violence," Olivares said. "I am not anti-gun, but I am anti-violence. We all should be."

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