SAN FRANCISCO—City officials are urging Congress to pass tougher gun controls just days before the 18th anniversary of a mass shooting in San Francisco's 101 California office tower that killed nine people, including the gunman.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said Tuesday he wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would ban large-capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition. He said it's similar to a federal law passed in 1994 that expired seven years ago. The new legislation is currently before a house Homeland Security subcommittee.
Gascon said he is optimistic it will advance because such clips were used in recent mass shootings, such as the January attack in Tucson, Ariz., that killed six and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
"We have seen it over and over again," Gascon said during a news conference. "Whether we are talking about Virginia Tech, talking about 101 California, certainly Tucson this year, the result of these events are very, very tragic."
Gian Luigi Ferri was carrying semiautomatic weapons equipped with large-capacity magazines when he walked into the San Francisco law offices of Pettit & Martin on July 1, 1993, and opened fire, killing eight and wounding six before committing suicide.
"It still seems so fresh because it was such a shock to the citizens of this city," said Deputy Mayor of Public Safety Paul Henderson. "This incident had a national impact on the way laws were affected."
Four months after the massacre, President Bill Clinton signed the Brady Bill, requiring background checks on gun purchasers. In 1994, Clinton signed the landmark federal assault weapons ban, a measure spearheaded by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat.
"This was the law of the land for 10 years and helped keep military-style firearms, like AK-47s, UZIs, and high-capacity ammunition clips, off our streets," Feinstein said Tuesday in a written statement. "I believe it saved countless lives. Weapons of war have no place in our communities.
"We need to strengthen our laws to stop the senseless killing caused by assault firearms and assault clips."
Gun rights advocates did not immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.
Among those who testified before Congress ahead of the 1994 assault weapons ban was Steve Sposato, whose wife, Jody Jones-Sposato, was gunned down in the San Francisco shootings.
Sposato, testified for stronger gun control laws with his then-infant daughter, Meghan, strapped to his back.
Meghan, now 18, recently wrote a term paper about gun control laws and shooting victims in America, Sposato said. He added that the paper got an A-plus.
On Tuesday, Steve Sposato praised the efforts of city officials, but remains frustrated that there is still no federal law after Congress let the ban expire in 2004.
"When my wife died, it destroyed my faith in this country. It was restored when I stood behind Bill Clinton when he signed the act," Sposato, 54, said. "But it was eroded again when it expired.
"It's still eroded by the lack of courage by the people in the House and the Senate to act on a new law. It's a sad state of who we are as a people and what our priorities are."