Comments On Gun Violence From This Week's Board Meeting

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I want to share the video clip and the text of the comments that I made at our Board of Supervisors' meeting this week, on the imperative for taking every reasonable step to protect all lives from the devastating violence inflicted by guns in our society.

Guns, Again

After 20 children and 6 adults were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, I spoke at our Board meeting about the need to take action to stop gun violence, and quoted New York Times columnist Gail Collins, who said:

 “America needs to tackle gun violence because we need to redefine who we are. We have come to regard ourselves – and the world has come to regard us – as a country that’s so gun happy that the right to traffic freely in the most obscene quantities of weapons is regarded as far more precious than an American’s right to health care or a good education. We have to make ourselves better.”

Since then, there have been more than 1,600 mass shootings, killing more than 1,800 people and wounding more than 6,400. Many of these events led to protests and calls for actions, but every time, Congress refused to do anything.

Now, we have the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, and an extraordinary group of young survivors whose searing voices shame everyone who fails to take action to put an end to America’s unforgivable tolerance for gun violence.

Emma Gonzales, one of the student survivors, said it better than any adult has or could:

“Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have ever been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say that tougher gun laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS.”

Well, I’m with Emma – this kind of BS needs to stop. And so I have a few simple suggestions for our Board.

First, that we support in every way we can the activities of the “Never Again” movement created by survivors of the Parkland school shooting -- including the March 14 “National School Walkout” and the “March for Our Lives” rally on March 24 in Washington, DC and in communities around the country. Let’s join with our local students to bring these activities to Marin.

Second, I ask that we support Assemblymember Phil Ting’s reintroduction of his proposal to expand California’s gun violence restraining order system to add employers, co-workers, high school and college staff, and mental health workers to the list of individuals who can seek a restraining order.

  • Under current law, only family members and law enforcement can petition a court when they believe someone is an “immediate and present danger” to themselves or others.
  • If a judge agrees, the person must temporarily give up possession of their firearms and is barred from buying new ones, generally for 21 days.
  • Since not everyone who may present a danger to themselves or others lives with family members, I think it makes sense to expand the list of individuals who can seek a gun violence restraining order.

Third, I ask that we support efforts to register young people to vote, such as Tom Steyer’s recent pledge of $1 million for a nationwide initiative to register high school students to vote in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.

These are modest steps and they must be coupled with individual activism to pressure Congress to take meaningful action to curb gun violence, and to reduce the death grip of the NRA on too many politicians and on our society.

Only if we act now can we hope to ensure that high school students in Parkland, Florida and in schools throughout our country are the last generation to grow up with the threat of being killed by a shooter at school.