NORMAN — Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey drew heat for his attendance at the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C. this week, but the chief was not at the conference to support banning weapons or high capacity magazines.
In Washington Humphrey had a discussion with Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, which was a “very proactive and positive meeting with a lot of open dialogue related to background checks and mental health databases. We also spoke of education being a key to gun safety and reduction of violence.”
Humphrey’s trip was paid for by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
“I made it clear in advance, my focus was not going to have anything to do with banning weapons,” Humphrey said. “It’s not the law-abiding citizens who are causing the problems,” he said. “I was very specific in what my part on this thing would be.”
He also met with Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, to discuss education and the database. The conference was an opportunity to participate in a national dialogue about gun violence.
“I was asked two weeks ago if I would mind being a subject matter expert to discuss the importance of background checks when purchasing weapons,” Humphrey said.
The conference was a collaboration between nine nationally recognized professional law enforcement organizations which comprise the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence.
“The main thing is, I made it perfectly clear that my focus would be on the enhancement of background checks for criminals and individuals with mental illness,” Humphrey said from Washington during a phone interview on Thursday. “There’s a national database, but Oklahoma doesn’t belong to that database for the mental illness part of it. I’m not here to discuss a ban on weapons.”
All literature related to the event focused on various areas in reducing gun violence. Participants had the chance to meet with key lawmakers, attend a senate hearing, discuss universal background checks for criminals and mental consumers, and other topics.
“I spoke with Sen. Inhofe’s staff and I spoke with Congressman Cole this morning and emphasized my part was to discuss education and background checks,” Humphrey said. “I’m here to discuss the safety of the community.
“I made it very clear to the facilitators that my focus would be on strengthening firearms purchaser background checks, and particularly adding Oklahoma mental health records to the federal system. I also explained that I would be representing NOBLE strictly on the aforementioned topics only,” Humphrey said. “I also made it clear that I was not willing to discuss banning firearms or high capacity magazines.”
On Wednesday morning, Humphrey was told he would be attending a senate hearing related to reducing gun violence.
At the hearing Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced the police chiefs by state. That introduction led some Norman residents to question if Humphrey was there to support a gun ban. He was not.
“I had no idea this would occur,” Humphrey said. “I can see how someone watching and not knowing the background information would be concerned about her comments and introductions.
“The ironic part of this is that shortly following the introduction many of us had to leave to attend other activities,” he said. “I never met with her or any representatives from her office.”