San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr called for a nationwide gun registry at an American Bar Association meeting in the city Friday.
"There needs to be some form of national gun registry so we know who has them, so we know that everyone who has them is cleared, checked, responsible," Suhr said during a panel discussion on strategies to prevent gun violence.
"It gives law enforcement the best chance to keep everybody safe," he said.
Panelist Gene Hoffman, chairman of the Calguns Foundation, a gun rights group, disagreed.
Hoffman said he supports background checks for gun buyers, but said he believes that a list linking gun owners and their weapons is "not necessarily the government's business."
Elizabeth Burke, managing attorney for Lawyers for a Safer America at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said that lawyers can help to reduce gun violence by filing lawsuits against dealers who sell firearms illegally.
The panel at the Moscone Center West was part of the ABA's annual meeting, which continues in the city through Tuesday.