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One Gun Too Many

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It’s just one more gun. With 20 million to 25 million in California already, one more would hardly seem to matter. But this gun, a brand-new semiautomatic pistol that deputies at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Lennox station are auctioning, does matter: It’s symbolic of the difficulty that Sheriff Lee Baca, a forceful recent convert to gun control, has in speaking with one voice on that issue.

The Lennox deputies are hoping to raise $4,000 to $5,000 to cover their participation in a law enforcement relay race. The holder of the winning $1 raffle ticket, if a sworn officer, can choose the 9-millimeter Beretta or $500. A winning ticket-holder who isn’t an officer can only receive the cash prize. But why auction a gun in the first place?

On Tuesday, when he learned of the raffle, Baca said he “wants to make sure we are not sending mixed messages. I don’t want us to be viewed as a source for weapons.”

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But mixed messages are exactly what Baca has sent recently. In November, he finally suspended a controversial program that gave celebrities, campaign contributors and others membership in a special reserve unit, complete with a badge and a Beretta handgun. This after two reservists were arrested, one for brandishing a weapon outside his Bel-Air home and another on money laundering charges.

Wednesday, Baca unveiled a program designed to locate the sources of celebratory or other gunfire on New Year’s Eve. Better still would be a thorough policy review that would enable the department to unscramble what it’s broadcasting about guns.

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