Irvine council tackles gun control

Although Irvine's City Council didn't get to it until almost seven hours after the meeting started, 17 public speakers waited to weigh in on local gun-control measures.

Tuesday's meeting started at 3 p.m., two hours earlier than usual, but the discussion, sparked by Councilman Larry Agran broaching the subject at the Feb. 12 meeting, didn't come up until around 10 p.m.

Agran first proposed a seven-point motion this week but narrowed it to two recommendations: appointing more school resource officers with Measure BB funds and urging Mayor Steven S. Choi to join Mayors against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition that includes more than 900 mayors from 45 states.

He said he would later like to pursue his other five points — starting education and gun turn-in programs, participating in a state Armed Prohibited Persons Database program, making mental health services more widespread, tightening regulations for issuing concealed weapons permits and looking at other policies, such as creating a victims compensation fund.

"It's time for us to stop boasting — I say that to myself as well — and start leading," Agran said.

Eventually, the council, which recently flipped its majority and become more conservative, voted unanimously in favor of Councilwoman Christina Shea's 10 slightly different suggestions.

She granted city staff up to 90 days to return to the council with information about the availability of funds for gun-safety education and turn-in programs as well as community mental health services.

Irvine resident Felicity Figueroa, citing the Mayors against Illegal Guns' common-sense policies, said, "If you do not agree with what seem to be these reasonable tenets of Mayors Against Illegal Guns to get rid of illegal guns, the only logical assumption is that you are a mayor for illegal guns. I don't believe that to be the case, but I could be wrong."

Agran originally brought up gun control during talks about the city's Federal/State Legislative Platform for 2013. At the time, Choi, Shea and Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Lalloway voted against the amendment, which included universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines and a ban on the manufacture, importation and sale of certain assault weapons.

"I'm in favor of education for gun owners," Lalloway said. "Contrary to some folks, I do think that gun owners are responsible with their weapons."

He said he doesn't support thwarting citizens' rights to lawfully obtain weapons by going through background checks and following state and federal laws.

The Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was often cited as an indication of Irvine's need for additional school resource officers.

"Let's give that direction tonight. Let's show a little bit of urgency," Agran said. "The resources are there. The reality of what our kids are exposed to is there. We want to expand our very successful school resource officers program into the middle schools, (so) let's get busy."

When it was revealed that funds from Measure BB won't be available until July, Shea struck a related 11th suggestion from her motion.

According to public safety director David Maggard, the Police Department has already hired an officer for this purpose.

"As much as we support [Measure] BB and what it stood for, we can't put a school resource officer in every school. It's just not feasible," Lalloway said. "As much as I would love to, it's just not possible at this point."

While several concerned residents lined up to encourage stricter laws in the nation's safest city, Yvonne Tsai, the mother of a 21-year-old rape victim, expressed the opposite view.

"I wish [my daughter] had a gun," she said. "We need gang control. We don't need gun control. Bad guys always have guns anyway. For some reason they have access to it. We need to train and arm the good people with guns. Freedom takes weapons to protect."

Twitter: @RMahbubani

Councilwoman Christina Shea's Proposal

•List of federal laws that impact our city on the issue of gun sales, safety and use.

•List of state laws that impact our city on the issue of gun sales, safety and use.

•The status, implementation and expansion of the school resource officers program in Irvine.

•Existing gun-safety education programs in our area, and ways that our residents might better be made aware of such programs.

•Possible grants available for funding gun-safety education programs and turn-in programs.

•How the California Department of Justice's Armed Prohibited Persons Database program has been implemented in the city.

•Identify and develop a plan to promote community access to available mental health services.

•Report on the number of concealed weapons permits issued in the last 10 years, and report on the current criteria used to determine the issuance of such permits.

•A breakdown going back 10 years on crimes occurring within Irvine where a firearm was used, and whether it was legally owned and registered.

•In its category, how many times has Irvine been named the "Safest City?" From staff's perspective, during the past 20 years, why and what has made us one of the safest cities?

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