Op-Ed by: Otto Lee
In the early morning hours of April 3, 2022, a shooting broke out in Sacramento, horrifically taking the lives of 6 people and injuring many others. Then, during the morning commute on April 12, 2022, a shooter opened fire in New York City’s subways, wounding dozens. The damage brought by gun violence is too common an occurrence in America. As the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated in 2021, this is a public health crisis that our country has grown to know all too well.
We remember July 28, 2019, when a shooter cut through a fence at the Gilroy Garlic Festival and killed 3 young people, including 2 children, and wounded at least 17 other people who were simply enjoying a fun-filled family day. Then on May 26, 2021, a shooter took the lives of 9 of our Santa Clara County VTA brothers, fathers and loved ones who were just going to work to provide for their families. It is imperative that we take measures to address this issue locally.
These tragic moments are still impacting our families. They also represent one of the many ways that gun violence continues to scar our communities. Combined with the prevalence of “ghost guns”, we need to act. Ghost guns are non-registered firearms that are privately made by people from kits without serial numbers so they cannot be traced; this poses a huge threat to our community as they make it more difficult to hold perpetrators of gun violence accountable. Law enforcement agencies in Santa Clara County took 293 ghost guns off our streets in 2021, more than double from the prior year.
We are taking action to end this senseless and heinous gun violence. We’re also taking action to stop preventable self-harm and violence. Recent studies have revealed that more than 60% of gun related deaths are suicides. There are firearms in our homes that are causing harm, and we want your help.
On Sunday, May 22, 2022, my Office is partnering with the Milpitas Police Department and the Office of the Santa Clara County District Attorney to host a gun buyback event at the Milpitas Community Center from 9 AM – 1 PM. No questions asked. For each handgun or shotgun turned in, participants will be given up to $100 and $200 for each assault weapon. Please visit SupervisorLee.org for more details. The first gun buyback was held in Philadelphia more than sixty years ago, and in Santa Clara County, gun buybacks have been successfully removing dozens of guns from our streets for nearly a decade.
We would appreciate your help in letting the community know about this upcoming event. Visit SupervisorLee.org for more information and links to our social media.
Following the April 3, 2022, shooting in Sacramento, President Biden announced a new nominee to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to tackle the growing frequency of ghost guns. Combined with our local efforts by the District Attorney and the Board of Supervisors, we are taking steps toward making real change that promotes health, wellness, and safety by removing weapons of violence and destruction. Our neighborhoods are safest when we come together.
One of the avenues to unite our residents and better our neighborhoods is through community engagement. Santa Clara County offers many different opportunities for people to get involved.
Additionally, the County offers more than 75 different Boards and Commissions that cover a range of topics for residents of all ages to get involved with. Some of the options include the Domestic Violence Council and the Youth Task Force – places where we can work together to end violence. Please send in an application if you are interested in serving by clicking HERE.
Another fantastic way to get involved is by joining the District 3 Community Roundtable (D3CRT). The D3CRT is a group of committed, engaged and active community members who are dedicated to addressing problems within District 3. Our next meeting is May 19 at 7PM. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “D3CRT” if you are interested in joining us.
Gun violence is a complex issue that sadly does not have an easy solution. While we work to address the roots of hate, anger, and sadness that drives so much of this violence, we hope that this special buyback event will help us get dangerous weapons off the streets to help save lives.
Otto Lee is a Santa Clara County Supervisor.