Law Enforcement Group Attacks Gun Opponents

Times Staff Writer

A group of local law enforcement officers opposed to legislation outlawing the sale of military-style assault rifles claimed Sunday that police officials who publicly endorse the ban are not speaking for the rank and file.

Representatives of California Peace Officers Against Gun Control--formed only days ago, with the encouragement of the National Rifle Assn.--told a Los Angeles news conference that the public has been deceived into believing that police support a ban on the weapons.

Referring to Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates and Sheriff Sherman Block by name, Santa Monica Patrolman Gary Steiner said: “They don’t speak for their officers. . . . They haven’t polled their members.”

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy J.W. Whitmarsh, a lifetime NRA member, said that the International Assn. of Chiefs of Police and San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara have “attempted to deceive people by saying law enforcement is united behind restrictive gun control legislation.”

He said some officers fear retaliation from their departments if they publicly oppose the legislation.


The group is composed of “65 to 100 officers,” most of them from the Sheriff’s Department and the LAPD, members said.

The state Assembly is expected to vote as early as today on a bill that would virtually ban the manufacture and sale of about four dozen specific semiautomatic weapons.

Pro-gun groups have lobbied against the measure.

Last week, the state Senate passed a much broader bill by Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles).