Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

On the same day that the nation was horrified by mass shootings in San Bernardino, 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.

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 the shootings were taking place at a San Bernardino service center for people with disabilities.

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

Englander, who supports exemptions, 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.

But members of Women Against Gun Violence and others who support gun control measures have said the exemptions chip away at the adopted ban, and questioned whether data exist that shows possession of high capacity magazines by retired police officers 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.

Prior to the vote, Koretz said he was “uncomfortable” with the exemption for retired police officers.

“I certainly have qualms … in terms of allowing retired officers to continue carrying high capacity magazines,” Koretz said.

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.”

— City News Service

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