By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer
EVANSTON - State Rep. Tyrone Yates and other area Democrats introduced a bill Friday that would ban military-style assault weapons in Ohio.
House Bill 485 seeks to permanently ban guns such as Uzis and AK-47s and eliminate any existing loopholes that could allow gun manufacturers to skirt the law by producing similar guns with minor cosmetic changes.
Yates, a former Cincinnati city councilman, presented the measure during a news conference at the Evanston Recreation Center - in the heart of a neighborhood rocked by gun violence in recent years. He was joined by members of the Coalition Against Gun Violence and Cincinnati City Councilman David Crowley.
The group said the bill is necessary because it appears that President Bush and the Republican-dominant Congress won't renew a 10-year-old federal ban of the weapons that is set to expire Sept. 13.
"If Washington doesn't act to keep our streets free of these weapons, Ohioans will," said Toby Hoover, executive director of the coalition. "These weapons are designed to quickly kill large numbers of people in a short period of time."
Hoover displayed a replica of an assault rifle and showed a video of the rifle being fired. The footage showed a man firing a 120 bullets from the gun in a brief span.
"These are weapons of war," said Crowley, who plans to introduce a resolution at Wednesday's council meeting supporting the bill. "If they belong anywhere, they belong on the battlefield, not on the streets of our city."
Yates also expressed concern for police officers who have to deal with the criminals who would use these weapons. The number of gun recoveries by Cincinnati police nearly doubled from 793 in 2000 to 1,508 in 2003.
"These military-style weapons are very, very dangerous," Yates said.
Hoover said the issue is important with the presidential election looming and Ohio's critical role in its outcome. She urged residents to lobby their congressmen to strengthen and renew the existing federal law.
"These are the weapons of choice for the criminals, drug dealers and thugs who are wreaking havoc on our streets," Crowley said. "Too many of our citizens are dying at the barrel of guns."
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