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San Diego Police Chief Supports Greater Gun Regulation

San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne talks to KPBS about his support of gun laws. "I could not be more supportive of the president for taking the position he has," Lansdowne says.

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Today, the city of Chula Vista discussed a resolution aimed at reducing gun violence. Yesterday, Del Mar city officials voted to ask the Del Mar Fairgrounds Board of Directors to end its contract with the gun show and to take the Del Mar name off the event.

These are some of the local responses to what is now a national debate over gun control. President Barack Obama is expected to release his proposed legislation on gun regulations sometime this week.

"I could not be more supportive of the president for taking the position he has," San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne told KPBS. "I think it's courageous with the politics involved in this process. But I think it's going to eventually make the country safer and certainly safer for my officers that have to respond to these calls. "

Lansdowne said he would like to see a national policy on importation of assault-type weapons and high-capacity magazines, along with a national database on gun sales. He said gun control laws do decrease crime.

"Those states that have the fewest number of guns certainly have the lowest number of homicides," he said. "But I don't think it's just the homicides you need to look at. You need to look at the suicides, the unintentional accidental shootings that take place. And for every homicide, there are three shootings that took place. And the difference between a homicide and a shooting, gang-involved or whatever it happens to be, is just the aim."

But the debate over stricter gun laws remains divisive.

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Mike Benoit, a Second Amendment advocate and member of San Diego's Libertarian Party, talks to KPBS about gun rights. "As long as America is armed, it won't be a Nazi Germany," he says.

Mike Benoit, a Second Amendment advocate and member of San Diego's Libertarian Party, doesn't believe gun regulation is the answer to stop mass shootings.

He says gun laws are ineffective and people who want to cause harm will find a way to get their hands on guns.

Gun control advocates have "this magical idea that they can stop all violence by removing certain types of guns and having restrictions on crazy people," Benoit said.

"Basically everybody is crazy at one moment or another in their life," he said. "And it doesn't stop the bad guys from getting guns."

"I would ask those people, 'would you be against arming the Jewish people in Nazi Germany with an assault rifle?' And the answer would probably be no," Benoit added. "That kind of devastation to human life would never have occurred if people had a way to fight back."

Benoit said gun rights prevent America from turning into a dictatorship.

"Because as long as America is armed, it won't be a Nazi Germany," he said.

But Benoit said people should not be able to have any weapon they choose.

"Well, not any weapon that in itself is, say, volatile and can cause damage," he said. "People say, well, libertarians would say people could have an atomic bomb. Atomic bombs can leak radiation and hurt people, so no. It's just dangerous in its basic existence."

He said theoretically, people could have surface to air missiles, but that's not a realistic scenario.

"Theoretically, yes, practically, no," he said.

Meanwhile, a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that support is growing for several gun proposals.

Claire Trageser contributed to this report.


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