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NRA Uses Shooting Match To Argue Against Gun Bans

February 6, 1989

LINDEN, Calif. (AP) _ The National Rifle Association invited Stockton officials to a shooting match Sunday in a last-ditch effort to stop a local ban on semiautomatic assault rifles.

Organizers of the target shooting competition hoped to show that assault rifles, such as the AK-47 rifle used in the Jan. 17 Stockton school massacre, have legitimate sporting uses, said J.P. Nelson, an NRA field representative.

The twice-monthly contest was scheduled before gunman Patrick Purdy used the AK-47 rifle to kill five children and injure 30 others at Cleveland Elementary School, before killing himself with a handgun, Nelson said.

Sixty-nine people competed in the match at the San Joaquin Rifle & Pistol Range, located 12 miles east of Stockton. Guns used at the contest included AR-15, M-1 and AK-47 rifles.

Only one Stockton school official accepted the invitation and showed up to watch the target shooting, Nelson said.

″He didn’t sound like one of our better friends,″ Nelson said.

The Stockton City Council is expected to ban sales of semiautomatic weapons within city limits on Monday.

Several state legislators also have proposed statewide restrictions following the Stockton school shooting and an increase in drive-by shootings by gangs armed with semiautomatic firearms.

Such restrictions would only affect law-abiding gun owners, not criminals, Nelson said.

″You’re not going to be able to legislate crazy people sane,″ he said.

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