REGION — After a previous failed attempt, the county Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in favor of a gun violence report and work plan with 17 recommendations, including an advisory group.
Requested by the board in April 2022 and prepared by Health Assessment and Research for Communities, the study offered statistics, public input, key findings and methods to lessen the problem, including safe-gun storage.
Supervisors on Tuesday also approved hiring a person to coordinate gun violence reduction activities and an annual report on gun violence in the county. In early 2025, county staff will update the board on the work plan.
Board Chairwoman Nora Vargas, Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer and Supervisor Monica Montgomery Steppe voted in favor of the overall proposal, in the form of two agenda items.
Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond voted yes on a first grouping of recommendations, including formally receiving the report, but no on a second set.
According to Lawson-Remer’s office, policy recommendations are:
– monitoring state and federal actions to improve safe-gun ownership and supporting violence reduction efforts in impacted communities;
– establishing and coordinating an advisory group to carry out the work plan and propose gun-violence reduction activities;
– networking and educational events, and roundtables for community stakeholders and government agencies;
– creating and hosting a digital platform for agencies and organizations;
– an ongoing structure for gun violence reduction work, along with a performance measurement and evaluation framework;
– sharing gun violence data with stakeholders and the general public; and
– organizing town halls and listening sessions.
In a statement, Lawson-Remer said county residents support common- sense gun safety reforms.
“Educating gun owners about safe gun storage, and parents about how to have difficult conversations with other parents about what gun storage looks like in their homes, will save lives,” she added.
In an emailed response, Desmond said he voted in favor of several work plan recommendations, but not all of them.
He described the recommendations as disproportionate, with 14% of them related to issues concerning suicide.
According to the study, the suicide rate represents 70% of gun-related deaths in the county.
Desmond said that rather “than spending tax-payer dollars on hiring someone to go talk to groups,” it would be better to use that money for direct community needs.
“If we don’t get to the root cause of the issue, mental health and violence, nothing will change,” Desmond stated. “The last thing we need is more bureaucracy, especially focused on the wrong thing like taking guns away from law-abiding citizens.”
Other than specifying which policy recommendations he didn’t support, Anderson had no formal comment.
Last July, supervisors failed to advance the HARC report and recommendations, deadlocking on a 2-2 vote.
At the time, the board lacked a fifth supervisor after Nathan Fletcher resigned in May in the wake of sexual assault allegations.