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Two Oklahoma police chiefs get caught in gun issue's political crossfire

Two Oklahoma police chiefs attending a national conference on prevention of gun violence say their appearance at a Senate hearing was misinterpreted by some to mean they support a bill that would ban assault weapons.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Modified: March 1, 2013 at 8:25 pm •  Published: March 1, 2013

Two Oklahoma police chiefs who attended a national conference on gun violence prevention say they have been flooded with calls from people who mistakenly believe they support a gun ban.

Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey and Spencer Police Chief Virgil Green say the “hot button” topic of gun control has led many to jump to the wrong conclusions.

“The phones have been ringing pretty steady since yesterday,” Green said Friday.

Both chiefs support stricter background checks before people can purchase weapons, but neither one supports a ban on weapons.

The two were among about 30 police chiefs from across the United States at the national conference in Washington. Humphrey and Green were invited to attend in their capacity as members of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

As part of the conference, the police chiefs were told to attend Senate hearings, one of which was chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the author of legislation that would ban assault weapons. She has been a lightning rod for criticism from gun rights advocates.

During the hearing on Wednesday, Feinstein asked all the police chiefs to stand and be recognized. She recognized some by name, including Humphrey and Green.

“I think this led to an inference we were there to support her position,” Humphrey said.

“I don't support banning guns. I think law-abiding citizens have a right to own weapons. I don't want to take anyone's Second Amendment rights away.”

Green said he was caught off guard when Feinstein called out their names.

“It was misinterpreted by many that we were there in support of her legislation. I'm not, and neither is Chief Humphrey,” Green said.

Keith Gaddie, a University of Oklahoma political science professor, said the two police chiefs were caught in the political crossfire surrounding the gun-control issue.

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by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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