Thursday, August 19, 1999 Published at 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Police chief backs gun control
LAPD Chief Parks: Call to take guns off the street
The head of the Los Angeles Police Department, Bernard Parks, has called for tougher gun control laws and attacked the country's powerful gun lobby.
Mr Parks was addressing a news conference called to release 911 emergency tapes of the recent shooting at a Jewish community day-care centre.
The police chief said such incidents highlighted the need to push forward new laws to destroy and ban assault weapons and "Saturday Night Special" handguns.
"You have to take the step. I don't think we can continue to play with the issue."
Mr Parks said groups such as the National Rifle Association were hiding behind constitutional arguments.
Right wing rage
The police chief's comments attracted sharp criticism from supporters of the gun lobby.
"He's surely entitled to his opinions on assault weapons and handguns, though he is inadequately informed on their place in the Bill of Rights," he said.
Mr Parks is among a growing body of influential voices calling for changes in America's gun laws.
US Attorney-General Janet Reno has said the country should "seriously consider" tougher gun legislation.
Vice-president Al Gore said it was children and families who needed more protection - not gun manufacturers.
And President Clinton has said he wants guns to be registered like cars.
"Please hurry. He's got a huge machine gun," cried one woman, among the first callers to the emergency services.
Another woman shouted: "There's been a shooting here. He shot the whole damn place!...Oh my God,!"
The gunman, Buford Furrow Jr., a white supremacist, eventually surrendered to the police.