Po­lice op­pose plan for guns

LAPD union says re­tirees should be ex­empt from pro­posed rules on lock­ing up or dis­abling hand­guns.

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Emily Alpert Reyes

Los An­ge­les law­mak­ers have been mulling new rules that would re­quire res­i­dents to lock up their hand­guns or dis­able them with a trig­ger lock when they are not be­ing used.

But the plan, cham­pi­oned by Coun­cil­man Paul Kreko­rian as a way to spare chil­dren from deadly ac­ci­dents, has spurred un­ex­pected op­po­si­tion from the city po­lice of­fi­cers’ union, which ar­gues that re­tired off icers shouldn’t be held to those rules.

The pro­posed rules would ex­empt ac­tive- duty and re­serve of­fi­cers, but the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Pro­tec­tive League says re­tired of­fi­cers should be ex­cluded as well, warn­ing of pos­si­ble dan­gers to for­mer of­fi­cers and their fam­i­lies.

In a let­ter to city law­mak­ers, the union ar­gued that cur­rent and for­mer of­fi­cers needed quick ac­cess to guns for pro­tec­tion, cit­ing the 2013 armed rampage by for­mer

LAPD Of­fi­cer Christo­pher Dorner as an ex­am­ple of po­lice and their fam­i­lies be­ing tar­geted. Re­tired of­fi­cers have gone through ex­ten­sive train­ing on con­trol­ling their weapons, union of­fi­cials said.

“To pro­tect them­selves and so­ci­ety … you have to give them the abil­ity to re­spond quickly,” league Di­rec­tor Peter Re­povich said.

Kreko­rian aides warned against chang­ing the word­ing of the pro­posed rules, which are mod­eled on a San Fran­cisco or­di­nance that has so far with­stood a le­gal chal­lenge from the Na­tional Ri­fle Assn. At a Fri­day hear­ing, L. A. Coun­cil­man Mitchell Eng­lan­der sug­gested another pos­si­ble amend­ment: lift­ing the stor­age re­quire­ments for those with a per­mit to carry a con­cealed weapon.

Those per­mits can be granted to judges, cur­rent and re­tired of­fi­cers and other ap­pli­cants ap­proved by lo­cal law en­force­ment off icials. Eng­lan­der, who is a re­serve of­fi­cer, said get­ting that per­mit in­volves an “ex­ten­sive back­ground search” and manda­tory train­ing.

His idea won sup­port from Coun­cil­man Joe Bus­caino, a for­mer L. A. po­lice of­fi­cer. Bus­caino said the or­di­nance should tar­get “ir­re­spon­si­ble gun own­ers” and said that the city should be sen­si­tive to the con­cerns of re­tired of­fi­cers be­cause they could be tar­geted for in­ves­ti­ga­tions they had un­der­taken while on the force.

“Any­one who wears a badge — both present and in the past — are po­lice,” he said, adding, “I’m just look­ing at their per­sonal safety.”

But other mem­bers of the Public Safety Com­mit­tee were un­easy with the idea of ex­empt­ing re­tired off icers and other con­cealed weapons per­mit hold­ers from the pro­posed gun stor­age rules. Coun­cil­woman Nury Martinez said she didn’t un­der­stand why any­one wouldn’t lock up or disa- ble their gun.

“Isn’t that just the re­spon­si­ble thing to do, as op­posed to hav­ing to go to another child’s fu­neral?” Martinez asked. “Whether you are a re­tired po­lice of­fi­cer or an on- duty po­lice of­fi­cer, I just think it’s the re­spon­si­ble thing to do — to lock your firearm at home.”

At the hear­ing, Coun­cil­man Mike Bonin said he also had mis­giv­ings about loos­en­ing the rules for any­one hold­ing a con­cealed weapons per­mit, as Eng­lan­der pro­posed. Bonin cited news ac­counts of a for­mer Cul­ver City po­lice chief who he said gave out the per­mits “like candy,” say­ing that he didn’t trust the judg­ment of ev­ery po­lice chief or sher­iff in the state.

A re­vised ver­sion of the pro­posal — one that ex­empts con­cealed weapons per­mit hold­ers — is ex­pected to re­turn to law­mak­ers for ad­di­tional de­bate in about a month. Kreko­rian, who does not sit on the safety com­mit­tee, is­sued a state- ment op­pos­ing the pro­posed change, say­ing it “would make the public less safe.”

“It would de­stroy a rea­son­able and mea­sured pol­icy that is de­signed to save the lives of chil­dren and oth­ers who die far too of­ten from ir­re­spon­si­bly stored hand­guns,” Kreko­rian said.

The ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Women Against Gun Vi­o­lence, a group that strongly backed the gun- stor­age pro­posal, said she was be­wil­dered by the pro­posed ex- emp­tion. “If you drive pro­fes­sion­ally for a liv­ing, does that ex­empt you from wear­ing a seat belt?” Mar­got Ben­nett asked.

It is un­clear whether the po­lice union will sup­port the re­vised plan. Re­povich said the pro­posed ex­emp­tion for con­cealed weapons per­mit hold­ers would cover re­tired of­fi­cers, but the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Pro­tec­tive League board would need to dis­cuss it be­fore tak­ing a po­si­tion.

In re­ac­tion to the L. A. pro­posal, the NRA said it op­poses “gov­ern­ment man­dated stor­age reg­u­la­tions” such as those called for in the draft or­di­nance, with or with­out the pro­posed ex­emp­tion. Spokes­woman Jen­nifer Baker said the group pro­motes gun safety but be­lieves that gun own­ers should be “free to choose the safe stor­age method that best suits their sit­u­a­tion.”

A law f irm that rep­re­sents the NRA and the Cal­i­for­nia Rif le and Pis­tol Assn. warned coun­cil mem­bers that the pro­posal vi­o­lates the U. S. Con­sti­tu­tion’s 2nd Amend­ment and con­tra­dicts state law. In a let­ter to law­mak­ers, Michel & As­so­ci­ates said it is still f ight­ing the San Fran­cisco or­di­nance and would pur­sue “im­me­di­ate lit­i­ga­tion” if L. A. passes sim­i­lar rules.

“They would not be on the safe ground that they think they are,” said Anna Barvir, an as­so­ciate at the law firm.

Rick Loomis Los An­ge­les Times

A CITY COUN­CIL PRO­POSAL would re­quire res­i­dents to lock up hand­guns or dis­able them when not in use. The po­lice union wants re­tired off icers ex­empt from the rules, cit­ing a height­ened need for pro­tec­tion.

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