In a move laden with election-year political implications, Rep. Mike Thompson announced Tuesday that he has more than 100 co-sponsors for a bill to expand background checks on gun buyers.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, on Thursday released a set of 15 policy recommendations on preventing gun violence, including a federal ban on assault weapons and background checks for most gun buyers, as well as proposals regarding mental health, school safety and media portrayals of violence.
The day after the Petaluma City Council expressed support for the federal assault weapons ban, the Santa Rosa City Council fired off two letters supporting efforts by Sen. Diane Feinstein and Congressman Mike Thompson to curb gun violence. Both letters referenced the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and 6 adults were killed by a gunman using an assault-style rifle.
Madeleine Melo of Fort Bragg, widow of the North Coast’s most prominent recent victim of gun violence, spoke out Thursday night in defense of gun ownership at a public forum convened by Rep. Mike Thompson.
Rep. Mike Thompson said the public forum on gun violence prevention that he is hosting Thursday in Santa Rosa will be a wide-ranging discussion of the divisive issue rekindled by last month’s tragedy in Connecticut.
Santa Rosa kicks off its annual Gang Prevention Awareness Week Saturday with one key change from prior years: police officers will not let children handle high-powered weapons. Photos of children handling assault-style weapons at a SWAT display last year set off a firestorm of criticism.
A Santa Rosa City Council review Tuesday night of Gang Prevention Week turned into a referendum on gun control and safety as residents gave the council members an earful about a SWAT display that allowed children to handle automatic weapons. Critics of the event, some wearing “Guns Are Not Toys” stickers, questioned the wisdom of the police display, which became publicized after photos circulated showing children handling an M-16-style rifle and other weapons.
Playing with real weapons is not — nor ever will be — an age-appropriate activity, says Rev. Curtis Byrd and Julie N. Combs, a member of the Santa Rosa Community Advisory Board. They want Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm to develop and underwrite a new educational approach which uses age-appropriate activities to teach children safe ways to behave when they encounter a gun and other deadly weapons.
The public will have the chance to weigh in Tuesday on the wisdom of a Santa Rosa SWAT team exhibit that allowed children to handle automatic weapons. Supporters say the exhibit as a way to help “demystify” the role of police in the community. Critics, however, have questioned whether it was the right way to break down barriers between police and the community.
UPDATE 9:20 AM: Santa Rosa Mayor Ernesto Olivares supports the decision by police to allow young children to handle fully automatic weapons during a recent community outreach event in the South Park neighborhood. The retired Santa Rosa police lieutenant helped organize the first such event three years ago. “They’re way off base,” Olivares said of those who suggested allowing children to handle police weapons might foster a dangerous fascination with guns.