Let’s Reduce Gun Violence By Educating the Public and Training Our Police to Use California’s “Red Flag” Law

California has some of the country’s strictest gun control laws; these laws are likely the reason that California has one of the lowest overall gun deaths per capita in the nation.

Yet, as the recent mass shooting in Gilroy shows, our state laws are not enough, by themselves, to prevent our residents from becoming victims of gun violence. In order to better protect our residents in California from gun violence, two more crucial steps need to be taken.

One of these steps — and by far the most important — is that Federal gun regulations must catch-up to California’s. 

The assault rifle used in the mass shooting in Gilroy is banned in California, but it is legal in our neighboring state of Nevada, where it was legally bought by the killer three weeks before the shooting.

The killer also had several high capacity magazines for the weapon, which are also illegal in California, but not in Nevada where they were bought.

Until the federal government finds the courage to defy the NRA and the gun dealer lobby, it will be very difficult to prevent these weapons of war from other states from being brought into and used in California.

For this reason, national action on gun violence should be advocated by everyone in California who cares about reducing gun violence.  Politicians who support the current president’s policy of giving veto power over federal gun regulations to the gun dealer lobby are undermining the effectiveness of California’s gun laws. For California to be safe, assault rifles and large capacity magazines must be outlawed in all of the states.

But another important step can be taken now, by us, even at the local level. That step is to inform and educate the public — and train our police officers — on the effective use of California’s gun regulations that are already on the books.

Perhaps the most important of these gun regulations is California’s “red flag” law, which empowers family members and law enforcement officers to petition courts to obtain a “Gun Violence Restraining Order” (GVRO) to temporarily limit a person’s access to guns if they are an “immediate and present danger” of harming themselves or others.

In 2014, California became the first state to let family members ask a judge to remove firearms from a relative who appears to pose a threat.  The “Gun Violence Restraining Order” law (California Penal Code Section 18100 et sec), modeled after domestic violence restraining orders, allows police or family members to obtain a judge’s order to disarm a gun owner they fear will turn violent. The order requires the gun owner to surrender all firearms for 21 days, and can be extended to a full year after a hearing.

The California legislature took action after a mentally ill man killed six students and wounded 13 others near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself. Authorities were legally unable to confiscate the weapons of the killer, despite his family’s having expressed concerns to authorities that he would become violent.

California’s law also empowers police to petition for the protective orders, which can require authorities to remove firearms for up to one year. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have since adopted similar laws.

Red flag laws save lives.

A recent study by the U.C. Davis School of Medicine found that California’s red flag law has significantly reduced gun violence.

According to Laura Cutilletta, legal director of the Giffords Law Center, California’s red flag law acts as a sort of timeout, so someone in psychological distress can get counseling while their fitness to possess a gun is evaluated.  “It’s a way to allow for temporary removal of firearms in a situation just like this: where somebody has made threats, where they have been expelled from school because of those threats, they’re in counseling, and parents or the school or whoever it is understands that this person poses a threat,” she explained.

However, the effectiveness of the red flag law has been limited by the lack of awareness of the law on the part of both the public and the police.  Too often, neither the public nor the local police are aware of or encouraged to obtain Gun Violence Restraining Orders.

A national organization, Speak for Safety, has formed for the specific purpose of raising awareness of the Gun Violence Restraining Order as a tool to remove firearms and ammunition from people who are an immediate danger to themselves or others.

Too often, neither family members nor law enforcement personnel know that such a gun violence prevention tool exists, even in states, like California, that have very effective GVRO laws on the books.

San Diego is an exception.  Since 2017, San Diego County has issued more than 300 orders, more than any other county in the state. They have been used to intervene in escalating cases of domestic violence, to prevent potential suicides, and with people with potentially dangerous mental illness. In the end, the police have seized more than 400 weapons and nearly 80,000 rounds of ammunition. As San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott has stated, ““We have no problem with responsible people having guns,” she said. “Our concern are the people who are no longer responsible. That’s when we’ll step in.”

Student march on Harvard Avenue in Irvine for stricter gun control. Photo: Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG).

The San Diego City Attorney’s office has been given a grant by the State of California to provide this training.  According to the San Diego City Attorney’s office, “Using case studies, we explain ways to apply the law, describe the process for obtaining a GVRO, and address complex issues concerning domestic violence, juveniles and individuals with neurological disorders, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. We also devote a significant amount of time to the topics of service, search warrants and seizure (firearms). The curriculum is directed at those responsible for implementing and coordinating a GVRO program at their agencies. Typically, all forms of law enforcement and city attorneys, with law enforcement clients, would directly benefit from this event. We have received nothing but positive feedback, increased interest and requests for more training from the law enforcement agencies and city attorneys we have worked with so far.”

You can see San Diego’s slide presentation about California’s red flag law here.

I believe that Irvine should also be a leader in utilizing the common sense gun control regulations that are already on the books.

Therefore, I will propose that the Irvine City Council work with City Staff and the Irvine Police Department to devise and implement a public awareness and education program regarding California’s red flag law, hold training sessions on the red flag law for members of the Irvine Police Department, and direct our law enforcement officers to use GVROs whenever appropriate.  We should contact both the San Diego City Attorney’s Office and the State of California about providing us with assistance with red flag training, procedures, and protocols.

Please join me in this effort by contacting the Mayor and the Irvine City Council and urging them to support this common sense proposal to use California’s existing red flag law to prevent gun violence and save lives in Irvine.

Everyone who knows someone who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others with a gun, should know how to “Speak for Safety” with a GVRO.

 

 

 

Yes, Let’s Create a Gun Violence Task Force — And Let’s Also Have a Real Discussion about How to Prevent Mass Shootings and Gun Violence

Based on her recent social media post, it appears that in the wake of three recent mass shootings (in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio) leaving at least 45 people dead and many dozens more injured, Irvine Mayor Christina Shea intends to create a task force to discuss what we can do in Irvine to prevent gun violence.

Significantly, Mayor Shea asks that we not turn this discussion into a “partisan” issue, and that we not hold local, state, or national politicians responsible for their actions, or lack of action, leading to the proliferation of mass shootings and gun violence.

I fully support a discussion of how our City Council can help prevent Irvine from becoming the site of the next gun violence atrocity. This discussion is long overdue. Our nation is suffering from a gun violence emergency.

But the discussion must not be a sham, and not be muzzled from the very beginning by preventing mention of the fact that Republican politicians — at every level of government — have sided with gun dealers and the NRA over the safety of our communities and families, and have stubbornly blocked Congress from enacting meaningful, common sense federal gun regulation.

We must also be willing to acknowledge the fact that President Donald Trump has incited violence and manipulated racial hatred in ways that many of us had hoped belonged to our tragic past. And we must explicitly reject and condemn Trump’s racist rhetoric.

As President Obama recently said, as elected officials and community leaders, we must reject the rhetoric of those “who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people.” Such language “has no place in our politics and our public life” and it is time “for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much — clearly and unequivocally.”

Let’s have a real discussion of mass shootings and gun violence — without any attempts at mirco-management by the Mayor or self-serving limitations on that discussion being imposed in advance by local politicians who are afraid that the public is fed up with the Republican Party’s spinelessness in the face of the NRA and the racist rhetoric of Trumpism, and their policy of creating diversions after each mass shooting rather than enacting real, common sense, gun control regulation.

I also ask that this Task Force be comprised of and led by real experts in the field of gun violence prevention. We have many such experts here in Irvine on the faculty of UCI and the UCI School of Law.  Our task force should not be solely composed of — or led by — politicians with an interest in self-promotion or self-protection, or protecting their political allies from justified and necessary criticism.

In addition, I suggest that the Irvine City Council immediately direct our Irvine Police Department to promote awareness of California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) law, which allows family members and law enforcement to seek the temporary removal of firearms from someone they believe poses a danger to themselves or others.

While GVROs have been called “the best tool in the state of California for responding to a threat of gun violence,” they are rarely used because residents and law enforcement remain largely unaware of the law and its potential to help stop a crime before it has been committed.

You can see a video presentation of California GVROs here:

I also propose that the City of Irvine and the Irvine Police Department remind residents about California’s safe storage laws requiring that guns be locked away from minors and anyone who should not have access to them.

I look forward to a lively, positive and open-minded discussion of what we can do in Irvine to prevent mass shootings and gun violence, including an awareness and educational campaign about GVROs, issuing official statements from our City Council calling on President Trump to stop his inflammatory rhetoric demonizing immigrants, Muslims, and people of color, and calling on Congress to pass common sense gun regulations relating to universal background checks, military-style assault rifles, and high capacity magazines.

 

Irvine City Council Issues Proclamation Remembering Holocaust and to “Remain Vigilant Against Hatred, Persecution, and Tyranny”

At the Irvine City Council meeting on April 23, 2019, the Council unanimously voted in favor of my motion for an official proclamation recognizing April 28 – May 5, 2019, as “Days of Remembrance” in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and in honor of the survivors, rescuers and liberators, and urging all to “remain vigilant against hatred, persecution, and tyranny.”

I want to thank the Mayor and my City Council colleagues for their unanimous support for this proclamation. The memory of the Holocaust should serve as a reminder throughout the ages of the need to treat all people with respect and dignity, and to ensure that hatred, bigotry, and tyranny have no place in America or any civilized community.

Lisa Armony, Project Director at Jewish Federation & Family Services, Orange County, with Irvine Holocaust Remembrance Proclamation.

The proclamation reads as follows:

DAYS OF REMEMBRANCE

April 28 – May 5, 2019

WHEREAS, the Congress of the United States established the United States Holocaust Memorial Council to create a living memorial to the victims of the Nazi Holocaust, to never lose memory of that terrible moment in time; and

WHEREAS, the Holocaust was the persecution of European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its collaborators between 1933 and 1945, and Jews were the primary victims – six million were murdered along with millions more targeted for racial ethnic or national reasons; and

WHEREAS, the history of the Holocaust offers an opportunity to reflect on the moral responsibilities of individuals, societies, and governments as well as remember the terrible events of the Holocaust and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution, and tyranny by rededicating ourselves to the principles of individual freedom in a just society; and

WHEREAS, the Days of Remembrance have been set aside to remember the victims of the Holocaust as well as to reflect on the need for respect of all people; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to an Act of Congress the United States Holocaust Memorial Council designates the Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust to be Sunday, April 28 through Sunday, May 5, 2019, including the international Day of Remembrance known as Yom Hashoah on May 1;

NOW THEREFORE, the City Council of the City of Irvine DOES HEREBY PROCLAIM APRIL 28 – May 5, 2019, as “Days of Remembrance” in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and in honor of the survivors, as well as the rescuers and liberators.

The Council also showed a powerful video on the Holocaust. Unfortunately, studies show an alarming number of American teens don’t know about the Holocaust. In the video, teens reflect on their visit to concentration camps in Poland where millions of Jews were killed.

This proclamation also serves as a reminder that antisemitism — and any form of racism or bigotry — will not go unchallenged by the good people of Irvine.

Irvine will always stand strong against hatred and intolerance and stand up for our neighbors.

An attack on anyone in Irvine because of their faith, race, or national origin, is an attack on us all.

 

Join Us for the International Sensation, “The Colours of Her Heart,” by Mallika Sarabhai and Samia Malik at the Merage Jewish Center!

Join us for a breathtaking performance of the international sensation, “The Colours of Her Heart,” by Mallika Sarabhai and Samia Malik at the Merage Jewish Center in Irvine on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at 7:00 p.m.

In “The Colours of Her Heart,” Mallika Sarabhai, dancer, activist, choreographer, columnist, speaker and one of India’s most tireless advocates for achieving social change through the arts, brings her latest music-dance creation to Irvine.

In collaboration with Pakistani lyricist, composer, painter, and singer Samia Malik, “The Colours of the Heart” presents the pains, travails and victories of women of all nations, the bonding and the sisterhood that is spreading across all nations, giving women strength, courage, and a feeling of belonging.

With songs in Urdu and English and stories that are both personal and universal, “The Colours of the Heart” draws you into the world of women and their lives.

The multi-faceted Mallika Sarabhai holds an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad (India’s most prestigious business school) and a Ph.D in Organizational Behavior. Since first making a name for herself as an actress., she has been one of India’s leading choreographers and dancers for over three decades. In constant demand as a soloist and with her own dance company, Darpana, she has been creating and performing both classical and contemporary works.

Samia Malik’s dynamic, evolving working practice encompasses music, visual art and education. Asking challenging and important questions about our common humanity, Samia’s Malik’s work has enthralled audiences from the UK to India. She writes and performs songs based on traditional Urdu Ghazal (a highly refined union of poetry with music) extending and subverting the form to explore contemporary issues around identity, race and gender.

“The Colours of the Heart” is presented in Irvine by the Ektaa Center and the Arpana Dance Company.

The Merage Jewish Center is located at 1 Federation Way, Irvine CA 92603

For more information, call the Ektaa Center at 949-300-8912 or visit www.arpana.booktix.com.

 

Join Me to Celebrate Diwali at the Great Park!

Diwali is one of my very holidays celebrated in Irvine.

One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.  It is celebrated with spectacular light displays and colorful garlands, and the exchange gifts and sweets. It is a time for rejoicing and renewal, and ridding oneself of hate, anger, and jealousy.

This year marks the fifth annual Diwali Fest in Irvine, and the very first to be held at the Great Park!

Diwali Fest is November 3, 2018, from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Orange County Great Park, 6950 Marine Way, Irvine, CA 92618.

This is a free event open to all.  No tickets are required.

Diwali Fest 2018 will feature Indian music and dance performances, food booths, vendors, and a traditional lamp-lighting ceremony.

Featured performers include Ada Dance Academy, Amna Dance, Arpana Dance Company, Bhakti Bhav, Dhwany Academy, Indian Dance Center, Ishwara Dance Academy, Kannada Kali, Mumbai Madness, Nityashtra Dance School, NDM Bollywood Dance Productions & Studio, Prance and Dance, RRB Dance Company, Shivam Arts Kathak School, and Vicek Arya.

For more information, contact the Ektaa Center at (949) 809 9605 or info@ektaacenter.org.

We need light and love now more than ever.

See you there!

Irvine Global Village at the Great Park was a Great Success — Take Our Survey and Help Us Make it Even Better!

As a member of the Irvine City Council, I’m very proud of Irvine’s reputation for being one of the most multicultural and harmonious cities in the world.

As Vice Chair of the Great Park, I very proud of the 2018 Irvine Global Village festival, held for the very time at the Great Park.

I loved the performances, the food, the laughing children, the smiles on people’s faces, and checking out the many items for sale from merchants representing the world’s cultures.

As always, the very best part of the Global Village Festival for me is meeting with people, especially in the booths representing Irvine’s wide-ranging civic and cultural groups and organizations.

Did you attend this year’s Global Village Festival?  If so, w e want your feedback!

Please take a quick, two-minute survey to help us continue to improve the festival.

Visit this link to participate:  cityofirvine.org/festivalsurvey.

Thanks!

Join Me at Irvine’s Global Village Festival at the Great Park!

My favorite Irvine cultural event of the year is almost here!

Experience sights and sounds from around the world on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at the Irvine Global Village Festival!

Irvine Community Services Commissioner Melissa Fox at Irvine's Global Village Festival 2013

In Irvine, we are proud of saying that our city is not only among the most diverse cities in the nation, it is also the most fully integrated.

There are no ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural enclaves in Irvine: every neighborhood reflects Irvine’s harmonious ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversity.

How diverse is Irvine?  A non-English language is spoken in a remarkable 58% of Irvine homes, with more than 70 different languages spoken in residences throughout Irvine.  Nearly 40 % of Irvine’s public school students have a primary language other than English.

Irvine is also home to more than 80 different churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship, serving Irvine’s wonderful cultural and religious diversity.

This year marks the 17th anniversary of the Irvine Global Village Festival – Irvine’s largest and most attended community event.

As Vice Chair of the Orange County Great Park, I am thrilled that, for the very first time, the Irvine Global Village Festival will be held at the Great Park!

Founded in 1998 by a group of Irvine residents to help promote understanding and build harmony within Irvine’s many diverse cultures, the day-long Global Village Festival is now Irvine’s signature event, featuring more than 100 performances on five stages; international cuisine and food from more than 50 restaurants; an international marketplace filled with unique crafts and textiles; interactive, educational and entertaining cultural displays, demonstrations, and performances; and an international village just for kids.

More than 40 local restaurants and gourmet food trucks serve up samples of regional and international specialties from boba smoothies, miso soup, falafel, Mexican fusion tacos and German pretzels to Japanese dumplings, Hawaiian shaved ice and the all-American bacon-wrapped hot dog. Please be prepared with cash for food and beverage purchases.

At the heart of the Festival is the Community Partners Pavilion, where nonprofit, local community groups and government agencies have an opportunity to showcase their programs and services to the community.

I’m looking forward to celebrating the many facets of Irvine’s diversity at the Global Village Festival – and I look forward to seeing you there!

Here are some important Festival details:

What: Irvine Global Village Festival

When: Saturday, September 22, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Where: Orange County Great Park, 8000 Great Park Boulevard, Irvine, CA 92618

Cost: Admission is FREE! Please be prepared with cash for food and beverage purchases.

Parking: Free parking is available on-site at the Orange County Great Park. Please enter at the intersection of Sand Canyon Avenue and Great Park Boulevard and follow event signage. Carpooling is encouraged. If you are being dropped off, taking a taxi or ride share service, have your driver follow the directions above and follow signage to the drop-off location: “Great Park Tennis Complex Parking Lot.” Disabled person parking is available. Please have the appropriate placard visible when following the directions above. Parking directors will route vehicles to disabled parking.

UCI Students and Staff: Anteater Express Shuttle service to and from the festival will be available for UCI students and staff.

Bike to the Festival:  The easiest way to get to the Festival is by bike. The City of Irvine has an extensive system of bike trails to get you to and from the event, and once inside, riders can safely and securely store their bikes at the Festival’s free Bike Valet area, hosted by the Bicycle Club of Irvine and the Orange County Bicycle Coalition. Use Irvine’s Bike Map to plan your trip.

Pets: Dogs are welcome at the Irvine Global Village Festival! However, owners must be responsible for their pets; dogs must be on leash, interact well in a large crowd and remain in the charge of a person competent to restrain them.

See you there!