Compton Votes Against Ban on Handguns

Times Staff Writer

Heeding warnings from state lawmakers and their own city attorney, the Compton City Council Tuesday night voted 3 to 2 to reject a proposed ordinance that would have outlawed private possession of handguns in their city.

The ordinance, which was passed unanimously on first reading last week, would have allowed only law enforcement officers or those who use the weapons in their businesses--such as security guards or licensed collectors--to possess handguns.

But the proposed ordinance died Tuesday when Mayor Walter R. Tucker and council members Jane D. Robbins and Floyd A. James voted against it.

Tucker said he had thought about the matter all week long and consulted with lawyers and with private citizens and was now convinced that the proposal would be both illegal and useless.

"No matter what you do," he said in discussion before the vote was taken, "the people who use handguns are not going to stop using them."

"I don't believe we have the capability in this city of protecting our citizens by taking away their handguns," James said. "Removing handguns from the citizens is not going to solve the problem."

"A man's home is his castle," Robbins added, "and you have to protect that castle . . ."

Compton City Atty. Wesley Fenderson Jr. had already warned them that passage of such an ordinance was "an illegal and frivolous act" because such authority belongs solely to the state Legislature.

Letter From Richardson

And state Sen. H.L. Richardson (R-Glendora) sent a letter in which he declared, "To put it bluntly, even if you do pass this ordinance, any citizen who carries a firearm can tell you to stick the ordinance in your ear."

Councilman Maxcy D. Filer, who originally proposed the ordinance, voted for it again Tuesday night. He said the proposal would not outlaw all firearms; citizens would still be legally permitted to keep rifles and shotguns.

The bottom line, he said, "is that we all hear gunfire at night in the City of Compton."

'Send a Message'

"If nothing else, let's pass the law to send a message to the state of California and the nation . . . "

His position was seconded by Councilman Robert L. Adams Sr., who argued that the "(U.S.) Constitution may have allowed handguns . . . but we are living in this city in 1987."

"We have gang-related shootings daily," he said. "We have domestic shootings daily, we even have shootings in the courthouse!"

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