PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ―
Apr 17, 2009 6:28 pm US/Eastern
Specter Says No To Automatic Weapons Ban
In Harrisburg this week, Governor Ed Rendell, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, and a dozen other officials pleaded for, what they called, "common sense" gun measures to protect police.
They asked Congress to ban semi-automatic weapons like the one used to kill Pittsburgh police officers Kelly, Sciullo, and Mayhle.
Today, Senator Arlen Specter said "no" to that request.
"The assault rifle serves no purpose in the home. It's not a sporting weapon.
It's only meant to do fatalities or harm," said Pittsburgh police chief Nate Harper on Wednesday when he joined law enforcement officials from across the state in calling for the re-instatement of the ban on AK-47's and other semi-automatic weapons.
On Friday, Specter said he opposed that ban.
"I think President Obama yesterday in turning down gun control at the federal level because it just isn't realistic struck the right note," Specter told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
Specter -- endorsed by the National Rifle Association for reelection five years ago -- voted against the original ban in 1993 and its extension in 2004 -- and also voted against background checks at gun shows and waiting periods for hand-gun purchases.
"The courts have to be a lot tougher in enforcing the laws we have."
Specter says a weak criminal justice system is the problem -- not the weapons used by the accused, Richard Poplawski, to kill three police officers.
"You have somebody who is obviously unbalanced, a record for violence, has a restraining order, the local officials have to act on that. The guy in Virginia who has a mental record, he has to be contained," said Specter.
And Pennsylvania's senior senator says judges -- not Congress -- need to do more to protect police officers.
"We have a lot of laws on the books now, and if we enforce them we could do a lot to protect our police and every citizen."
Gun control is always controversial.
The NRA called Specter a "reliable and capable advocate of firearm freedom."
But other Second Amendment groups -- like Gun Owners of America -- say Specter has voted for bills that contain anti-gun provisions.
While police can be a very effective lobbying group, it's not clear that they will carry the day in this political battle.
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