While elected officials in Washington DC are discussing how to address gun violence in America, local leaders are taking action. Using, creating, and expanding various tools at their disposal, local governments are addressing the very local issue of guns in our communities.
In recent months, community and municipal leaders have begun reducing the number of guns in the state. Their actions, while small in scale, have provided an outlet for individuals to remove unwanted guns from the streets and from their homes in a safe manner.
“Sometimes we need to come together taking one small step that empowers the average individual with the ability to do something,” said Marin District Attorney Ed Berbien who organized a buyback program in Marin County. “Let’s take a step to reduce the total number of these weapons. Let’s have a day where we go to our local police agencies across the county and turn in these guns.”
The Marin County program was initially funded with $43,000 – $10,000 from the County, $20,000 from a Community Foundation, and $10,000 from community contributions. That money ran out before all 827 weapons were surrendered, forcing the issuance of vouchers.
A newly announced program in Santa Clara County will allocated $160,000 to fund its buyback program.
In Los Angeles, more than 2,000 weapons were taken off of the streets at the end of 2012 as part of a citywide gun buyback program. The weapons, which can be turned in without any questions asked included assault rifles, handguns, and rifles. Someone even surrendered a rocket launcher.
“This Citywide Gun Buyback effort takes dangerous weapons off our streets and rewards Angelenos who voluntarily surrender their firearms, making our communities safer for us all,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The City’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) Office operated the Los Angeles program and was funded through donations from the supermarket chain Ralph’s as well as community foundations and donors.
Another approach, stemming from long-held powers of local officials, to controlling guns on the streets is the Sheriff’s authority to regulate gun permits. This power, often exercised as a reflection of local attitudes toward gun ownership, creates varying standards to apply for and receive a conceal and carry permit.
It is also the Sheriffs who will figure largely into Washington’s new gun control policies, as the Sheriffs and their deputies will have to enforce the laws. That, too, may be subjected to local attitudes concerning firearms. In the case of El Dorado County, Sheriff John D’Agostini, he wrote to Vice President Biden in January to affirm his commitment to not violating the law or constitution in the event that unlawful restrictions are placed on gun ownership.
“I am the elected Sheriff,” wrote D’Agostini. “As such I am sworn to support and defend the Constitution… The purpose of this letter is to go on record of re-affirming my oath of office and making it clear that I and my staff will never violate that oath by being pressured into enforcing any unconstitutional provision, law or executive order.”
Whether the local approaches for gun buybacks or federal action, local leaders will continue to lead the way.