San Diego Police Chief Bill Kolender has purchased nine handguns since 1980, including at least two weapons that were later registered to two businessmen on their concealed-weapons permits, The Times has learned.
Kolender purchased eight Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolvers and one Sturm, Ruger & Co. .22-caliber handgun between 1980 and 1983, according to gun registration records.
The records show that two of the weapons were later obtained by Michael E. Turk, a San Diego contractor and close friend of Kolender, and Irving H. Levin, a Los Angeles film executive and former owner of the San Diego Clippers basketball team.
Levin declined comment and Turk said he couldn't remember if he obtained a weapon from Kolender.
Kolender, through a spokesman, declined to discuss the matter.
"The chief said he purchased those guns for his use," said Cmdr. Keith Enerson. "Those were purchased for his personal use. And that's really all we're going to talk about.
"He has some in his possession, I know. He said he had several. That could be between two and nine."
Kolender was reprimanded last month by City Manager John Lockwood for, among other things, using his position last year to help a personal friend, Jim Ciancimino, buy a handgun without waiting the 15-day "cooling off" period required by state law.
Lockwood's report on Police Department improprieties addressed only the one gun transaction. On Monday, Lockwood declined to comment on whether he knew about Kolender's private gun purchases when he conducted his review.
But the city manager said he saw nothing wrong with Kolender selling or giving guns to friends.
"I have no problem with that whatsoever, as long as it is a legal activity," Lockwood said. "And it is.
"A police chief can purchase and sell guns as he sees fit, and that's no concern of mine unless the weapons are city property. And I did look at the use of city property and city surplus weapons that are sold, and I am satisfied that . . . there was nothing irregular on the city inventory of weapons."
The Smith & Wesson .38 is the same kind of weapon the department issues to its officers.
An outspoken backer of gun-control measures, Kolender led a meeting earlier this year of big-city law enforcement executives in decrying efforts to weaken federal handgun laws.
"We don't think you should be able to walk . . . into a store and buy a gun," Kolender said at the February meeting of the Major City Police Chiefs.
Unlike many police officers, Kolender is not an avid gun collector and does not enjoy guns, said one close friend who asked not to be identified. The acquaintance said he doubted that Kolender had kept all nine of the guns he purchased since 1980.
"Bill Kolender is anti-guns," the source said. "He is a real nice guy who needs to be liked. If you need a gun, he will go out of his way to get one because he needs to be liked."
The Times previously reported that Kolender was involved in supplying guns to three friends. He helped Ciancimino acquire a 9-millimeter Sig Sauer, and sent an officer to deliver handguns in 1981 to banker Thomas W. Sefton and to Pat Curran, business manager of the San Diego Chargers, according to the officer.
Lockwood concluded last month that Kolender did not intend "in a devious way" to circumvent the law in connection with the sale of the gun to Ciancimino. He noted that the police chief had known Ciancimino for some time and did not consider him to be a threat to society.
"Chief Kolender is a gregarious and popular person (who) likes to do things for people," Lockwood wrote in his report. "This is a strength. But it is also a weakness, as he is apt to assist individuals in instances where the chief of police should not."
In a diary kept by Officer Jeanne Taylor, she said she was asked by Kolender to deliver a gun to Curran on April 1, 1981, and to pick up a check for $233.20. Curran has declined to comment about the transaction.
Records obtained by The Times show that, five days before that transaction, Kolender purchased a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber.
The records showed that Kolender purchased two .38-caliber Smith & Wessons handguns that were later registered to Turk and Levin.
Kolender bought one weapon on Oct. 11, 1981. It was later registered in Turk's name on concealed-weapons permits issued by the Sheriff's Department in 1984, 1985 and 1986, records showed.
The police chief bought another handgun on April 14, 1983. That weapon was registered in Levin's name on concealed-weapons permits in 1984 and 1985.
The models purchased by Kolender were difficult to obtain during the early 1980s and fetched a premium price, said Jaybie Gray, owner of Dunn's Discount Guns. The guns listed for $260 and $289, but actually were sold for $300 to $400 because gun shops had to buy the weapons from "scalpers," said Gray.
The records obtained by The Times did not show where Kolender purchased the guns.
Kolender, through the spokesman, declined to say whether he sold or gave away the guns.
"A personal use doesn't mean something can't be given away later," Enerson said. "I don't know that he gave them away. I don't have any proof that the gentlemen have guns."
Levin, president of New Century Entertainment, a film production and distribution company, said he had "no comment" on how he obtained the gun.
Turk, owner of M.E. Turk General Contractor Inc., said he couldn't remember if he purchased a gun from Kolender.
"I might have," said Turk. "He's been a friend of mine for a long time. He was the best man at my wedding."