Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, shown here in April addressing a summit on youth violence, on Friday called for a federal ban on assault weapons. Villaraigosa, set to chair the Democratic National Convention in September, was speaking in the wake of a move-theater shooting in Colorado that left 71 shot, including 12 dead. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called today for a federal ban on assault weapons in the wake of the movie theater massacre in Colorado.
Villaraigosa, who will chair the Democratic National Convention in September, sent condolences on behalf of the city to the victims and their families and ordered the flags at Los Angeles City Hall flown at half-staff until Wednesday.
He also expressed sadness over the tragedy while railing against gun laws.
"Now, more than ever, we need to address issues surrounding the proliferation of assault weapons in American society,'' the mayor said. "It's beyond time for the political leaders of this nation, in a bipartisan fashion, to make it wholly more difficult to own assault weapons -- guns that have no rational place in our communities.''
He called for a federal ban on assault weapons similar to California's. A federal ban on assault weapons that was passed in 1994 expired a decade later and has not been renewed.
"It's time for the federal government to again ban these weapons, just like California enacted the nation's toughest law against assault weapons nearly two decades ago,'' Villaraigosa said. "It's time for nationwide background checks and waiting periods so guns don't fall into the wrong hands, criminal hands, only to be used against innocent victims in everyday crimes as well as mass murders.''
The mayor, a former state Assembly speaker, called on lawmakers to "do more than just talk about the pain and sorrow'' of the shooting.
The four weapons used by alleged Aurora shooter James Holmes were all obtained legally beginning in May, according to federal officials, NBC News reported.
Holmes allegedly had two handguns, a Remington model 870 single-barrel shotgun, and one Smith and Wesson AR-15 type rifle, called by some an "assault rifle," according to federal officials. The rifle had a 100-round magazine attached to it, officials said.
Holmes had purchased some 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said in a press conference Friday evening.
Gun Owners of California Executive Director Sam Paredes called the mayor's response a "knee-jerk'' reaction.
"All of our support and prayers go to the families of those that are affected,'' Paredes said. "Whenever there's a situation like this, there's no question its extremely tragic, but ... nothing that any law can do will prevent people hell bent on doing these dastardly deeds from doing them.''
Paredes added, "The theater was a gun-free zone, where people possessing lawful gun permits had absolutely no chance for anyone to cut (the shooting) short.''
He said media attention should focus on what caused the shooter to act rather than on what gun he was using.
"We need to find out what was the issue that could make somebody like this snap and do something like this. Assault weapons aren't the problem. People are the problem,'' Paredes said.