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Assault Weapons Ban Takes Center Stage In Race For LA City Attorney

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Candidates hoping to become the next Los Angeles City Attorney on Thursday roundly rejected accepting any campaign support from pro-gun lobbyists.

Veteran police attorney and candidate for Los Angeles City Attorney Greg Smith was among the candidates who gave his endorsement on Thursday for a full federal ban on assault weapons in the face of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings in Newton, Conn.

Smith, the owner of a private law firm and a Vietnam-era veteran, said his stance on gun violence would not waver after 28 people – including 20 children – were killed on Dec. 14.

“I cannot begin to fathom what the children of that Connecticut school and their parents have been going through these last few days,” said Smith. “My heart breaks for them.”

Smith – who is campaigning to replace current City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, along with other candidates including former Los Angeles City Council member and California Assemblyman Mike Feuer – was also the latest candidate to support legislation introduced by Senate Dianne Feinstein to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons like the AR-15 used in the Sandy Hook shootings.

As City Attorney, Smith said he would specifically act by focusing on gun reduction programs and increasing penalties for illegal possession of firearms.

Trutanich has joined LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and state Attorney General Kamala Harris in co-signing a letter to gun owners warning them that failure to notify authorities when they sell their weapons or when their firearms are lost or stolen is a misdemeanor.

He pointed out that under his administration, the latest LAPD crime stats (PDF) show gun-related crimes as of Dec. 15 are 7.8 percent less than they were at the same time in 2011, while during the same period, there were 13.4 percent fewer shooting victims than in 2010.

“This is good news – relatively speaking,” said Trutanich. “But we must do more – in fact, everything we can do – to protect our residents from gun violence in general and from the kind of tragedy that took the lives of so many innocents in Newtown.”

Feuer also advocated similar measures in an opinion piece for the Huffington Post, calling specifically for a “special focus on getting guns out of the hands of felons, the mentally ill and other people prohibited from possessing weapons.”

On Thursday, Feuer issued a challenge to his fellow candidates to reject any form of support from the National Rifle Association or any other pro-gun lobby affiliate.

“Los Angeles residents need a City Attorney who will prioritize curbing gun violence — not a City Attorney who’s beholden to, supported by, or on the side of the pro-gun lobby,” said Feuer.

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