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Last week, two radical Islamic extremists opened fire in San Bernardino County at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center. The attack left 14 dead and 21 wounded, and left Southern California in a wake of uncertainty about how to prevent similar attacks.
“This hits very close to home, because San Bernardino is a neighboring county,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
“Our first responders, in close collaboration with our regional, state and federal law enforcement partners complete training exercises on a regular basis to prepare for emergencies of this nature. These include Multi-Assault Counter Terrorism Action Capability training, which helps the city prepare for the possibility of multiple active shooters.”
From President Barack Obama addressing the nation from the Oval Office on Sunday, to increased debate among presidential candidates, national leaders presented their solutions. But after terrorist attacks in Paris claimed the life of a Long Beach resident, Nohemi Gonzalez, and news surfaced that one of the San Bernardino victims was from Koreatown, the acts of terror were made “deeply personal for people across Los Angeles,” Garcetti said.
“As we mourn the 14 innocent victims who died in [last week’s] mass shooting in San Bernardino, we have learned that one of our own, 45-year-old Shannon Johnson, is among those who lost their lives,” Garcetti said. “Shannon rose before dawn each morning to get to his job as a San Bernardino County health inspector. He shared a home with his girlfriend, Mandy Pfifer, a longtime member of the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team.”
Garcetti said the city is actively working with communities to identify signs of radicalization.
Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, introduced two resolutions to the city council regarding gun violence and terrorism after the San Bernardino shootings.
The first would place Los Angeles in support of a U.S. House of Representatives bill, HR 1076, and its companion bill, SB 551, authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015 would eliminate a loophole in federal gun laws that currently allows individuals on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s terrorist watch list to legally purchase firearms and explosives.
“Perhaps grassroots support, including from our city, may make the difference in getting such common sense measures approved,” Koretz said.
Mass shootings, such as what happened in San Bernardino, are defined as shootings that leave four or more people wounded or dead. A press release from Koretz’s office reported that an average of more than one mass killing occurs each day in the U.S. As of Dec. 3, there were 353 such incidents in the U.S. this year.
Koretz’s second resolution supports recognizing and responding to gun violence as a public health crisis, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is prohibited from conducting research on gun violence by existing law.
“Gun violence is killing a mammoth amount of Americans and taking its toll on countless families and communities,” Koretz said. “Let’s all come together in support of common sense solutions regarding gun violence.”
The two resolutions were sent to the rules, elections and intergovernmental relations committee.
Last week, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) spoke on the Senate floor in support of gun control legislation.
“It isn’t enough for us to keep lamenting these tragedies,” she said. “We need to take action now before something else like this happens again.”
Boxer noted that 31 Americans are killed every day from gun violence.
“People deserve to feel safe in their communities … They deserve to feel safe when they go to a holiday party at work …” Boxer said.
After the San Bernardino shootings, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said there are proposals in Congress that would “without question reduce gun violence and mass shootings” in America. He called for background checks for every gun sale.
“We also need to make it easier to preclude people with serious mental health problems from gaining access to some of our most deadly weapons,” Schiff said. “Why does anyone need a military-style assault weapon with an extended ammunition clip for hunting or self-protection? The simple answer is, they don’t.”
On Wednesday, fans of former Beatle John Lennon fans met at his Walk of Fame star in front of the Capitol Records Tower on Vine Street. Organizer and activist Jerry Rubin said fans gather every year on the anniversary of Lennon’s death after he was shot and killed in New York in 1980. This year, though, with the help of Suzanne Verge, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the event had a different tone. In addition to the celebration of Lennon’s life and music, there was also a call to action against gun violence in recognition of the victims in San Bernardino.
Verge told the story of when her brother Peter was shot and killed in the 1970s.
“There was the knock on the door and just like that, our world ended,” she said. “The Santa Monica Police had come to tell my mom those unthinkable, incomprehensible words, that my brother Peter had been murdered one mile from our home.”
She quoted John Lennon, saying, “If you want peace, you won’t get it with violence,” and she echoed Koretz’s resolution, stating gun violence is a public health issue. She pointed to the decrease in automobile deaths since the advancement of airbags and seatbelts.
“A handgun in the home is more of a risk to a loved one than it is a protection,” she said. “We have tackled public health issues before. We did it with cigarettes. You used to be able to buy cigarettes from a vending machine and smoke them on airplanes. The tobacco industry had immunity. They no longer do. The only people who have immunity these days is the gun industry. We need to change that and we need to act.”
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