Police coalition seeks magazine limits, gun checks

WASHINGTON Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:35pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A police lobbying group called on Thursday for wider background checks on gun buyers and a ban on large-capacity magazines in the aftermath of the Colorado theater massacre.

The National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence urged lawmakers to close a loophole that allows 40 percent of gun purchases, such as those made online or at gun shows, to occur without checks on buyers' backgrounds.

Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes, 24, purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition over the Internet before the shooting spree.

Hubert Williams, the police lobbying group's chairman, said legislators also should ban magazines holding more than 10 rounds. Police said Holmes used that type of magazine at the movie theater in Aurora. In 2004, Congress let a ban on the magazines lapse, along with one on assault weapons.

"On issues of public safety, America responds, with one glaring exception. We have been derelict in our national response to the problem of gun violence," Williams told a news conference.

The National Law Enforcement Partnership comprises nine major organizations, including the Police Foundation, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

The group's call comes amid renewed national debate over gun control sparked by the July 20 shooting in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 people were killed and 58 wounded.

Police say Holmes was armed with a semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, a pistol and a shotgun when he opened fire during a midnight showing of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."

No motive has been given for the shooting and Holmes bought his weapons legally at local gun shops. He appeared dazed at a hearing this week and his hair was dyed orange like the Joker villain in the Batman movies and comics.

The police group's call came a day after President Barack Obama pledged to work to "arrive at a consensus" on how to reduce gun violence.

Gun control is controversial in the United States, where the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms. The powerful National Rifle Association has strongly opposed gun regulation.

A poll commissioned by an anti-gun lobbying group showed that most U.S. gun owners supported some ownership restrictions, including criminal background checks for prospective gun buyers.

As part of its lobbying efforts, the National Law Enforcement Partnership and state law enforcement officials met Senate candidates in Virginia and Wisconsin this summer to urge greater background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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