Gun violence prevention forum to be held in Davis

The City of Davis is hosting a community forum on breaking the cycle of gun violence. The event will feature renowned gun violence researcher Dr. Garen Wintemute, and Amanda and Nick Wilcox, legislative and policy chairs of the California Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

The forum will be held on Feb. 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Community Chambers in City Hall, at 23 Russell Blvd.

It is also hosted by Saving California Communities (SCC), an organization dedicated to making sure California communities have adequate resources. The Yolo Local Mental Health Board is co-sponsoring the event.

“We felt the community was ready to organize for this issue and want to be informed of efforts currently underway,” said Susan Lovenburg, a member of the Davis School Board and co-founder of SCC. “It is a topic relevant to everyone. The forum will educate people on research and legislative efforts underway, and how they can connect with the issue.”

Wintemute is an emergency room physician at the UC Davis Medical Center and also conducts research on the prevention of firearm violence.

He will present current research on reducing gun violence and public opinion on gun control. Additionally, he will address the ways in which California has taken a lead role in developing policies and programs to prevent firearm violence, and some of what might be done this year.

“There are more than 30,000 deaths from firearms in the United States every year. With less than 5 percent of the world’s firearms, we control more than 40 percent of the firearms that are in civilian hands,” Wintemute said.

Amanda and Nick Wilcox are parents of shooting victim Laura Wilcox. Her death in 1999 by a shooter in Nevada City inspired the creation of “Laura’s Law.”

They will be speaking on state and federal efforts to increase gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, Conn.

Amanda said one federal policy being pushed is requiring background checks for all those who purchase guns. She said this will keep weapons out of the hands of people who are at risk for violence.

“Shootings can happen anywhere and to anybody,” Amanda said. “No one is immune from gun violence.”

Additionally, Amanda said that on a state level, California’s firearm homicide and suicide rates are declining more rapidly than elsewhere. The goal now is to close loopholes and make sure dangerous people don’t have dangerous weapons.

SCC is an organization made up of Yolo County community members who coalesce to advocate for state and local governance.

Don Saylor, Yolo County supervisor and member of the SCC, said the SCC noticed the toll gun violence had taken on the country and felt the issue demanded attention.

“[The forum] is a chance for the community to discuss the importance of firearm violence and what can be done about it,” Wintemute said. “I’d like to hear their concerns, their ideas and in particular, actions they would like to take.”

PAAYAL ZAVERI can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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