(CNS) Inspired by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan to move up the city's gun buyback program to this month in light of the mass killing at a Connecticut school, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido said today he wants to do the same thing in his city.
Appearing at a gathering of Santa Ana City Council members and Santa Ana Unified School District leaders in front of the Old Orange County Courthouse, Pulido discussed organizing a gun buyback program and support for gun-control legislation on the state and federal levels.
Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, told City News Service he was also planning to introduce legislation regarding mental health issues, including one that would legally compel mentally ill people such as schizophrenics to take their medication.
"The biggest issue in my opinion is mental health,'' Correa said, adding state lawmakers need to reverse "massive budget cuts'' to mental health programs.
There have been reports that the suspect in the mass killing of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., had mental health issues. "This is a good discussion for society to have,'' Correa said of how authorities can compel mentally ill people to take medicine that controls
violent impulses. "As a society, we have to balance safety versus people's rights.''
Pulido said he saw his "good friend'' Villaraigosa at today's news conference announce moving up the city's gun buy-back program, which is usually held around Mother's Day, to Dec. 26, and the Santa Ana mayor thought his city ought to offer a similar program.
"What I'm going to do is call him'' for details, Pulido said. "We're just going to figure it out. If Los Angeles can do it, we can do it.'' A 2004 report by the National Academy of Sciences "Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review,'' found that "the theory underlying gun buyback
programs is badly flawed and the empirical evidence demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these programs.''
The report found that guns that are typically surrendered in buyback programs are those that are least likely to be used in criminal activities, such as guns that are old or malfunctioning or owned by people who derive little value from possessing a gun, such as those individuals who have inherited guns.
Guns turned in at buyback programs are unlikely to be used by criminals, according to the report.
Pulido said he would also push the City Council to issue resolutions supporting gun control legislation. Pulido added he is particularly interested in the bill Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has said she would introduce in January that would mirror the law banning assault weapons that she wrote, but expired in 2004. Pulido said he wants to support "reasonable'' gun control legislation.
"We need to close the loopholes,'' Pulido said, referring to how some gun manufacturers would tweak weapons so they wouldn't be on the list of banned guns. Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Sal Tinajero, a high school teacher, also voiced support for some type of gun-control legislation.
"It is important now that we don't just talk about gun control,'' Tinajero said. "It's time to do something... We have to make tough decisions, and talk is cheap. It's time to move forward.''
Santa Ana Unified School District Police Chief David Valentin stressed that his agency ``works very well'' with Santa Ana police to reassure parents that law enforcement is dedicated to keeping classrooms safe. "The school district police department and the city's police department are really joined at the hip,'' Valentin said. "Our officers train side by
side (with city police).''
Acting Santa Ana Police Department Chief Carlos Rojas asked the public to help law enforcement prevent tragedies like the mass killing in Connecticut. "If you see something suspicious or out of the ordinary we need that phone call,'' Rojas said.