Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local

Supervisors Fletcher, Lawson-Remer propose county study options to sue gun manufacturers

Two San Diego County supervisors today say they want the power to sue gun manufacturers for gun violence. This comes after the U.S. Senate appears to have reached a bipartisan agreement on gun control. KPBS reporter Alexander Nguyen has the details.

In the wake of recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, two San Diego County supervisors Monday said they will introduce a proposal to seek out policy recommendations that would enable the county to sue gun manufacturers as a means of holding the companies accountable.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher and fellow Supervisor Terra Lawson- Remer announced their plans during a Monday news conference outside the county Administration Building.

The said they would bring forward their proposal during Tuesday's regular meeting.

"We want to use this policy to put pressure on manufacturers to be responsible corporate citizens," Fletcher said. "They shouldn't be allowed to rake in money and then sit idly by as people using their product perform mass shootings."

TAHLIA FISCH.jpg
Matthew Bowler/KPBS
Tahlia Fisch a tenth grader from the Grauer School spoke out against gun violence at a press conference in front of the San Diego County Administration building, calling on adults to "Do your job" and protect children from mass shooters, San Diego, June 13, 2022.

Lawson-Remer said that gun manufacturing "is a multi-billion business that profits off deadly products, and these corporations cannot get away with deliberately evading the law, marketing to kids and other reckless and illegal actions."

She added: "It's time to take our fight for common-sense gun safety from the statehouse to the courthouse, and hold firearm manufacturers accountable in a court of law for their role in deadly shootings."

According to a news release, supervisors "do not have a specific lawsuit they are wishing the county join at this time."

If supervisors approve the proposal, Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer will develop recommendations — after consulting with the county sheriff and other relevant departments — to cooperate with other law enforcement agencies to receive weapon seizure reports.

Robbins-Meyer would later return to the board with options on legal action against gun manufacturers.

According to statistics provided by Fletcher and Lawson-Remer:

— among 12 high-income nations, including Australia and France, over 80% of firearm deaths occur in the United States;

— over 90% of children killed by firearms in this group were from the United States;

— each year, over 45,222 people in the U.S. die as a result of gun violence;

— tens of thousands more suffer non-fatal gun injuries, and

— firearms are the leading cause of death among children and teens.

"Just as San Diego County has joined other cities and counties in California to hold opioid painkiller manufacturers and distributors accountable for deceptive marketing and for creating an epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction that killed thousands in San Diego alone, the county should hold gun manufacturers accountable for their role in the public health epidemic of gun violence," according to a Board of Supervisors letter.

Fletcher said Monday that if the proposal advances, it will give the county another tool against gun violence.

LUCY_YANG.jpg
Matthew Bowler
Eleventh grader Lucy Yang from Canyon Crest Academy spoke out against gun violence at a press conference in front of the San Diego County Administration building, June 13, 2022.

Instead of mass shootings, "kids ought to go to school and worry about the things kids (should) worry about," Fletcher said.

Two high school students and gun violence prevention advocates were also at the Monday news conference.

Lucy Yang, an 11th-grader at Canyon Crest Academy, said that too many of her peers spend years worrying about gun violence in their school, which creates anxiety.

Wearing a T-shirt with the words "Team Enough" on it, Yang asked, "Isn't school supposed to be an institution of education and safety?"

Yang added that gun industry profits have taken precedence over protecting children's lives.

Tahlia Fisch, a 10th-grader at The Grauer School, said she has experienced lockdowns over threats. She added that, when entering a classroom, rather thinking about today's lesson, she's more concerned with where to hide in case a shooting happens.

"I ask myself this question in restaurants, malls and grocery stores," Fisch said. "I don't want guns in my school, I don't want guns in my home. Changes can be made."

In January, supervisors voted 3-2 in favor of ordinance to require safe firearm storage and prohibit the distribution or creation of "ghost guns," which lack serial numbers.