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San Diego County Supervisors OK More Support of Federal, State Gun Safety Reform

The San Diego County Administration Building in this file photo taken on Dec....

Photo by Alexander Nguyen

Above: The San Diego County Administration Building in this file photo taken on Dec. 13, 2020.

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 3-2 to support state and federal legislation that furthers gun safety reforms, including stronger background checks for firearm purchases.

The decision amends the county's Legislative Program, letting it support proposals such as U.S. House Resolution 8, which recently passed the lower house of Congress. That bill, which has moved on to the U.S. Senate, would firm up the existing Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act by closing a private sales loophole.

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer proposed the amendment change.

"We are joining with concerned Americans across the nation to call for universal background checks and investments in communities impacted by gun violence, common-sense measures that will help our neighborhoods and keep guns out of the wrong hands," she said after the board's vote.

According to Lawson-Remer's office, the March 16 mass shooting in Georgia — where six of the victims were Asian women — "highlighted the inequitable impact mass shootings have on individuals who are Black, indigenous and people of color."

Black Americans represent nearly 70% of homicide victims in big cities, many of which involve firearms, according to the firearm reform advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, Lawson-Remer's office added.

Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond voted no on changing the county's legislative policy.

Desmond said California already has some of the most stringent background checks in place. For example, "you can't sell a gun to a neighbor" without one, he said.

Anderson said that while serving in the California Legislature, he worked hard to make sure that felons didn't have access to guns.

"There's a big difference between illegal possession and legal ownership," Anderson said. He described Lawson-Remer's proposal as "window dressing" that doesn't close the legal gaps that allow criminals access to weapons.

Some gun safety advocates in the San Diego region praised the county policy change.

"While much work remains to be done, I applaud this step by Terra Lawson-Remer and her fellow county supervisors," said Oscarin Ortega, executive director at Lived Experiences, a nonprofit that helps at-risk youth in Oceanside.

"Gun violence can be prevented and it's an injustice that our leaders have turned a blind eye to this epidemic that has left a heavy burden on the mental health of our young people," Ortega said in a statement.

Michael Schwartz, executive director of San Diego County Gun Owners, criticized the board's decision.

"The county board's support for extreme California-style gun ownership restrictions in all 50 states has been proven to do nothing to prevent violent crime, but will continue to be used disproportionately against people of color," Schwartz said. "Gun owners in San Diego County are opposed to their decision and the horrible consequences these policies have."

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