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Rolling out assault weapons ban, Perlmutter reads letter from Aurora victims

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, speaking at a press conference in Washington, DC on Thursday.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, speaking at a press conference in Washington, DC

DENVER — On Capitol Hill Thursday, nearly six weeks after the Newtown, Conn. shooting rampage that killed 20 first-graders, Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter joined other supporters of a new federal ban on some assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons and gave voice to victims of the Aurora theater shooting that took place last July.

Perlmutter, who is a co-sponsor of the legislation in the House, read a letter signed by the family members of seven different people who died in the theater shooting.

“Our loved ones were gunned down and an entire generation of our families taken away in a matter of seconds,” Perlmutter read. “We listened to the 911 tapes played in court and sat in agony as we heard 30 shots fired within 27 seconds, wondering if one of those bullets killed our children.

“Every day, our families struggle to get out of bed and try to survive through what is unbearable grief due to the loss of our loved ones – the senseless murder of our children who were riddled with bullets from semi-automatic assault weapons, one carrying high-capacity magazines,” the letter continued.

With assault rifles and semi-automatic rifles displayed on one side and police officers who support her proposal behind a team of supportive lawmakers, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said the goal is to “dry up the supply of these weapons over time.”

“These massacres don’t seem to stop,” the California Democrat said, listing notorious rampages of past years known by the lone name of their locations — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson and Oak Creek.

“We should be outraged at how easy it is” for attackers to get hold of the semi-automatic weapons or large-capacity magazines used in those slaughters, she said.

The proposed legislation lists 158 models of guns, like the AR series, the AK series, and Uzis, which do not serve a practical purpose of sporting or self-defense. Unlike the assault weapons ban passed in 1994, also authored by Feinstein, there would be no sunset provision that would make the ban go away, as it did in 2004.

Acknowledging the ban does confront “constitutional issues” surrounding the Second Amendment, Perlmutter told the reporters at the press conference that the people of the Denver area expect action from their elected representatives in Washington.

“I believe in the Second Amendment, and we have to protect the right to defend ourselves. I believe in liberty and rights of hunters, sportsmen, and personal defense gun owners,” Perlmutter said. “But we can’t continue silently watching 30,000 deaths a year by guns and near-monthly mass shootings in places we should feel most safe. Every day, families – like the ones impacted in Aurora –and in my neighborhood, in the grocery store, and who call my office are asking for solutions to the heartbreaking problem of gun violence.”

The letter Perlmutter read was signed by: Thomas and Caren Teves, the parents of Alex Teves; Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, the mother and stepfather of Jessica Ghawi; Jerri and David Jackson, the parents of Matt McQuinn; Greg and Rena Medek, the parents of Micayla Medek; Marlene Knobbe, Medek’s grandather; Robert Wingo, the father of Rebecca Ann Wingo’s two children; Dave and Theresa Hoover, the parents of AJ Boik; Jessica Watts, the cousin of Jonathan Blunk; and Anita Busch, the cousin of Greg and Micayla Medek.