An overflowing lobby surprised Sonoma County administrators last night at the public forum convened by Rep. Mike Thompson (D—St. Helena) at the County Supervisor’s Chambers. Dozens spoke on both sides of the argument, both for tighter gun laws and calling for more guns for protection. Thompson was recently called upon to head a panel of 12 fellow Democrats called the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Today, Marin County’s District Attorney weighed in with his thoughts on the matter.
In response to the Sandy Hook shooting, Marin County announced a gun buyback program taking place on January 15 and 21. “ I personally believe we are a society with too many guns simply sitting in garages, closets, drawers and who knows where else,” says Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian in a press release. “Let’s take a step to reduce the total number of these weapons.”
Residents of Sonoma County are invited to participate in the program as well, which doles out $200 for each operable semi-automatic gun and $100 for anything else. This is a “no questions asked” policy, according to the DA’s office, and no police investigations will be launched as a result of someone turning in a gun.
Guns can be turned in January 15 between 11am and 8pm at: Novato Police Department, 909 Machin Avenue, Novato; San Rafael Police Department, 1400 Fifth Avenue, San Rafael; Larkspur police facility of the Central Marin Police Authority, 250 Doherty Drive, Larkspur; St. Andrew’s Church, 101 Donahue, Marin City; and Pt. Reyes Substation of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, 101 4th Street, Pt. Reyes. Guns should not be loaded when turned in. Locations for the January 21 buyback are San Rafael and Mill Valley (1 Hamilton Drive, Mill Valley) police departments between 11am and 8pm.
Marin County has committed $10,000 to this program, with additional funds coming from the Marin Community Foundation ($20,000) and the community at large donating another $10,000 to the Marin County DA’s office.
The dates were chosen to commemorate the Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., one being on the day of his birth and one being on the calendar-observed holiday honoring him. A victim of gun violence himself, Dr. King was a ceaseless advocate of peaceful protest, decrying the use of violence for any purpose.
The most mind-boggling quote from the Press Democrat’s story on last night’s forum had to be this: “Children need to know how to protect themselves,” reportedly spoken by a self-described grandmother and National Rifle Association recruiter, saying the NRA already teaches gun safety to children. It’s hard to imagine a lack of guffaws from the North Bay crowd after that comment.