- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 14, 2004

From combined dispatches

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Breaking with Republican lawmakers who oppose gun control, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill banning .50-caliber BMG rifles.

The large-caliber, high-powered rifle is used by the military and police to shoot at long-range targets, including ones more than a mile away.

Civilian owners of the weapon typically use the rifle at firing ranges and for big-game hunting, but with armor-piercing ammunition the rifle can penetrate concrete shelters and lightly armored vehicles.

Critics of the rifle argue that there is no reasonable civilian use for the weapon. They say it could be used by terrorists to shoot at oil refineries and airplanes, or by snipers against people.

Gun-rights advocates maintain that the weapon has not been used in a crime in California.

Despite his gun-toting film career, Mr. Schwarzenegger is in favor of some gun controls, including the 10-year federal ban that expired Monday on certain semiautomatic firearms known as “assault weapons,” said his spokeswoman, Terri Carbaugh.

“He’s committed to keeping the public and law enforcement as safe as possible,” Miss Carbaugh said. “This lines up with his philosophy that reasonable gun-control measures are necessary to accomplish that objective.”

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