PARKS TOUGHER ON GUNS; CHIEF NIXES PERMITS TO CARRY WEAPONS.
Police Chief Bernard C. Parks has cut by nearly half the number of Los Angeles residents licensed to carry concealed firearms - angering attorneys, business people and others who say they need to pack a gun.
Reversing a more lenient, 5-year-old LAPD policy, Parks has denied 60 requests to renew concealed-weapon permits since taking office in August and rejected all applications for new permits, according to records obtained by the Daily News.
Parks said Tuesday that it is not enough for residents to feel unsafe to get a gun. They must be able to prove tangible threats to their safety to qualify for carrying a concealed weapon.
``I don't think guns should be handed out on a gun permit merely because someone speculates about danger or they speculate about the harm that may come to them because they may own a certain kind of property or transport a certain kind of property,'' he said.
Parks' stance has angered some gun owners, who say it infringes on their right to protect themselves from real dangers in an unsafe city.
``Everybody is being turned down,'' said attorney Burton Jacobson, whose renewal application was rejected. ``Not only is it unreasonable, but it doesn't comply with the court order that the city is under.''
Jacobson said he was issued a permit for three years in a row by former Police Chief Willie L. Williams, but was turned down without explanation by Parks this year.
``I'm a former federal prosecutor. I put a lot of people in prison,'' said Jacobson, who fears some of those people might seek revenge.
Jacobson has notified the city that he plans to ask a Superior Court judge today to hold the city in contempt for violating a court order in 1993 requiring the LAPD to use ``reasonable standards'' in considering permit applications.
Assistant City Attorney Byron Boeckman said the order means the chief still has the option of rejecting permits provided he gives reasonable consideration to each request.
``We believe we have (complied),'' Boeckman said.
But gun owners say the numbers speak for themselves.
During his five years in office, Williams approved 158 concealed-weapon permits, some of which have since lapsed.
Parks approved the renewal of 26 permits that the court order specifically required to be extended, but of 62 other renewal applications that have reached his desk, only two were approved by Parks, said Officer John Rose of the LAPD's gun unit.
No new permits
Parks also has turned down all 100 applications for new permits, Rose said. As a result, the number of Los Angeles residents permitted by the LAPD to carry concealed weapons is down to 65, he added.
``He's reduced it quite a bit,'' Rose said.
Officials say Williams applied broader standards that were drafted as part of the 1993 lawsuit.
Under those standards, LAPD officials can require applicants to prove they face an immediate and continuing threat to themselves or their families to justify the issuance of a permit.
``I think we should follow the policy that was agreed upon, and it's my interpretation that many of them (in the past) had been given without following the full breadth of the policy,'' Parks said.
Parks said he believes he is complying with the court order in applying the stricter standard.
``It is required that there be some very specific issues and danger,'' he said. ``I certainly have a concern about people having gun permits that don't follow the guidelines.''
The chief also believes permits should not be issued when there are alternatives to reducing the danger, such as jewelers having merchandise transported by professional couriers rather than by themselves, or doing the work during the day rather than late at night.
North Hollywood optometrist Thomas Kutrosky's permit is up for renewal in August, and he is anxious about how Parks will consider his application.
``I have some apartments, and I have to go there and collect money'' in dangerous neighborhoods, Kutrosky said of his reason for obtaining a permit from Williams four years ago.
However, Kutrosky's wife also collects money, and she has been unable as a new applicant to get a permit.
``I don't think the whole situation is reasonable,'' he said. ``We're in a state where you are supposed to be able to get a permit.''
Still, the chief's strict standards are supported by Luis Tolley, western director of the group Handgun Control, which might join in the LAPD's defense if the gun owners' legal action goes to trial.
``We certainly don't believe the public is served by having more people carrying hidden guns on the street,'' Tolley said.
He said the 1993 lawsuit resulted from the allegation that the Police Commission was routinely rejecting all applications without giving them consideration.
As long as Parks seriously considers the applications, Tolley believes he is complying with the court order.
``We feel the law does give the chief full discretion,'' he said.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Article Type:||Statistical Data Included|
|Date:||May 13, 1998|
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