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Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz Vote Against Retired Police Officers’ Magazine Limit To No Avail

(Thinkstock).
(Thinkstock).

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to exempt retired police officers and reserve officers from a recently adopted ban in Los Angeles on the possession of ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

Police department and union officials have been pushing for the exemptions, saying officers are able to handle high-capacity magazines and should be allowed to use their training if they ever find themselves needing to defend others in a life-threatening situation.

LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, saying he is speaking for police Chief Charlie Beck, said allowing retired police officers to keep high-capacity gun magazines “saves lives” and the department supports the exemption for such individuals “for obvious reasons.”

Albanese also said that for some reserve officers who are not considered “peace officers” when off-duty, “we have to identify a way to then take that magazine away from them until they are ready to serve their next tour of duty.”

However, members of Women Against Gun Violence and others who support gun control measures have said the exemptions chip away at the adopted ban, which garnered Los Angeles nationwide attention earlier this year.

Following today’s vote, Women Against Gun Violence’s executive director, Margot Bennett, questioned whether data exists that shows possession of high capacity magazines by retired police officers actually contributes to public safety.

The council voted 11-4 in favor of the exemptions, with members Nury Martinez, Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz and David Ryu casting the dissenting votes. Because the vote was not unanimous, the proposed ordinance will need to return to the City Council for a final vote.

Before the vote, Koretz said while he was “willing” to support the exemption for reserve officers, he was “uncomfortable” with the exemption for retired police officers, who he feels “are not necessarily magically any different from anybody else.”

“If you have a situation where someone was depressed or have other problems 30 years after they retire from the LAPD, there’s nothing magical that keeps them from being an active shooter,” Koretz said.

Councilman Paul Krekorian, who authored the gun magazine ban, voted in favor of the exemptions. When asked for the reasons the councilman supported the changes, a spokesman responded that “we don’t have anything to add to this.”

Others who voted for the exemptions expressed their confidence in the intentions of those who are currently and formerly members of law enforcement.

“I am of the firm belief that once a cop, always a cop,” Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said.

“We live in a very dangerous world in a very over-armed society here in the United States,” he said. “I feel much more secure with reserve officers and retired police officers being out and about in this dangerous world, fully equipped to handle emergency situations that spring up out of nowhere and I don’t need to elaborate on any of those.”

The ban, adopted in July, is aimed at preventing mass shootings in which large numbers of people are hurt or killed within a short amount of time due to high-capacity weapons being used.

The City Council vote came as a shooting was taking place at a San Bernardino service center for people with disabilities.

Councilman Mitch Englander noted the news of the shooting during today’s discussion.

Englander, who supports exemptions and is an LAPD reserve officer, said he has not heard of an example of a retired police officer perpetrating a mass shooting.

“It’s never happened,” he said. “If someone can find a case, I’d love to hear it, but it’s never happened.”

“Could it happen? Anything can happen,” Englander said. “I would trust that 30- or 40-year officers who have put themselves in the front line to protect us have really our best interest at heart.”

The ban was adopted in July by the City Council and signed into law by Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the deadline to turn in high-capacity gun magazines that violate the law was last month.

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