Voting, laws, and health solutions were discussed during a conversation about gun violence on Monday led by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) at Woodbury University.
The officials were introduced by Woodbury president David Steele-Figueredo and joined by public health experts Andrea Welsing and Karen Rogers as the group addressed an overflow crowd in the university’s auditorium.
“At the end of the day, people who are not supportive of common-sense gun-safety legislation just need to be voted out of office,” said Schiff, prompting arguably the loudest applause during the event.
“There is no other political remedy here. Increasingly, I think that is exactly what we’re going to see happen,” he added.
Schiff shared his disappointment that gun-control measures were not passed after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Twenty-eight people were killed, including 20 students.
He said he was also taken aback by a young girl’s response on television shortly after the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas this past May that left 10 dead.
“She was asked, ‘Did you ever expect this could happen at your school?’” Schiff said. “Of course, I waited for her to say ‘No’ and ‘I would have never imagined this would have happened at my school,’ but her answer was, ‘Yes. Why wouldn’t it?’ That’s where we’ve come.”
Rogers, an author and clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the USC Keck School of Medicine, said she’s been asked to “give talks” after several mass shootings, including at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks earlier this month, at an office party in San Bernardino in 2015, at Sandy Hook and inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in 2012.
“More than one student has said to me, ‘I look at my peers and I think, are you the one who could bring a gun to my school and shoot everybody?’” Rogers said. “Imagine how that tears at the fabric of community for a child in school?”
Rogers added that 3 million children are touched by gun violence a year.
“I’ve known countless stories of resilience and recovery,” she said. “It’s been my privilege to witness over and over again the amazing resilience of children and families … but at what price?”
Welsing, director of the injury and violence prevention program for the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said one of gun safety’s biggest hurdles is funding.
“The [Centers for Disease Control] really has minuscule funding to do gun-violence research and that is one of the messages I think I would say in terms of a solution,” she said. “We really need to focus more and to support efforts to do gun-violence research.”
Portantino talked about two pieces of legislation he introduced last year.
Senate Bill 1100, which raised the age to sell or transfer all firearms from 18 to 21, was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 28.
“There are just too many weapons in private hands unnecessarily,” Portantino said.
However, Senate Bill 1177, which would have restricted firearm sales to one per month, was vetoed by Brown.
“I’m going to bring [this] back next year,” said Portantino, hoping to have more luck with incoming Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“You only have one finger,” he said, glancing at his trigger finger.