Hoping to get more weapons off the street in cities across the nation, lawmakers and law enforcement officials recently turned out to support new federal legislation that aims to fund more gun buyback programs.
The Firearm Safety and Buyback Grant Act, introduced by Congresswoman Linda Sánchez, would establish a grant program within the Department of Justice to help local and state governments and law enforcement agencies fund anti-violence, gun safety campaigns and firearm buyback programs.
“This new legislation is about gun safety,” said the Congresswoman. “It’s about safely disposing of unwanted firearms. It’s about preventing gun violence.”
Announced at a press conference at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters in Monterey Park, the bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Janice Hahn and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard who were also joined by Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure.
Chairman Ridley-Thomas, who recently co-sponsored a Gifts for Guns exchange in Compton with the sheriff, noted that gun buybacks may not be a perfect solution to reducing violence but that they are a step in the right direction. At the exchange, two weapons per minute were turned in by the first hour. A total of nearly 400 weapons were collected and more than $38,000 worth of Target and Ralphs gift cards were distributed .
“Reducing gun violence requires all hands on deck – it requires prevention, mental health intervention, education, better parenting – the list goes on and on,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “In the final analysis – reducing gun violence will require us as a society to shift our normative thinking. We must reject the culture of violence that permeates our society.”
Chairman Ridley-Thomas announced that he would introduce a motion to the Board of Supervisors in support of the gun violence prevention legislation.
Gun violence is an issue that affects all Americans. On an annual basis 20 percent of the 100,000 people who are shot each year from gun violence in the United States are children and teens. Three thousand of those same children die each year from gun violence. According to the Children’s Defense Fund 5,740 children and teens died from gun violence in 2008 and 2009; a number that would fill more than 229 classrooms of 25 students each.
“This legislation is smart. It is what needs to happen in order to invite residents to participate in a non-violent campaign in order to reduce gun violence,” said Chairman Ridley-Thomas. “We have a moral imperative in this nation to take seriously the issue of reducing violence and crime. I’m here to lend my heartfelt support for this important legislation and I trust it will find its way to the desk of the President to sign into law because it will make a fundamental difference.”