Orange County gun violence prevention and safety groups support President Biden’s Executive Order on gun control legislation

President Biden issues a new plan to stop gun violence in the United States. Specna Arms/Unsplash

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 14,107 deaths due to gun violence in the United States as of April 29. There have been 169 mass shootings so far this year.

The Biden-Harris administration proposes six initial actions to address the gun violence public health crisis. Gun violence is taking lives and leaves the impact of trauma for victims and their families and communities. In light of the drastic increase in gun-related deaths and injuries, President Biden has used his executive authority to implement the following proposed legislation:

  1. The Justice Department, within 30 days, will issue a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns.”
  2. The Justice Department, within 60 days, will issue a proposed rule to make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act.
  3. The Justice Department, within 60 days, will publish model “red flag” legislation for states.
  4. The Administration is investing in evidence-based community violence interventions.
  5. The Justice Department will issue an annual report on firearms trafficking.
  6. The President will nominate David Chipman to serve as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Chipman served at ATF for 25 years and now works to advance common-sense gun safety laws.

The Orange County chapter of Brady United Against Gun Violence was founded in the 1990s. Brady campaign logo/Courtesy

Brady United Against Gun Violence is a national organization with over 90 grassroots chapters in the United States and 27 chapters in California with millions of volunteers across the country. It was named after James “Jim” Brady, former President Reagan’s press secretary who was shot and permanently disabled in an assassination attempt in 1981. The local chapter Brady Orange County is located in Laguna Hills. 

Mary Lee and Charlie Black founded the Orange County chapter in the 1990s. They dedicated their lives to this cause after their 21-year-old son was mugged and shot in New York. They educate and advocate for gun laws that prevent violence in communities.

Sandy Wilder is currently a vocal advocate and president of Brady Orange County. Sandy Wilder/Courtesy

Sandy Wilder is the current president of Brady Orange County. She has been involved with gun violence prevention and safety since a shooting at her school, UC Santa Barbara in 2014. There are over 700 supporters in O.C.

“Brady started the organization to propose increased legislation for universal background checks for the purchase of firearms based on the original bill when Jim Brady was shot,” Wilder said. “There should be a background check for every firearm purchase, but that seems foreign to some people and I don’t know why.”

The banning of assault rifles is also on the list of measures that Brady supports. Biden supports a ban on such weapons which serve no civilian purpose.

“The damage to the human body that assault rifles inflict is unbelievable,” Wilder said. “There is no reason for citizens to have a weapon of war on our streets. It’s absurd.”

In the past year, the pandemic has limited events to Zoom since local facilities have been closed, so they could not meet in person.

Carole Hacker (left), Patricia Boe, Orange County local group lead Katherine Martin. DJ Boe, Giesela Tanner hold the canvas in the Road Trip for Background Checks, which will be put together with other canvases, personal stories and photos of people killed by gun violence in the United States with letters to Congress delivered to the U.S. Senate. Patricia Boe/Courtesy

Moms Demand Action is another national non-partisan grassroots nonprofit organization with over six million supporters and chapters in every state.  These advocates work hand in hand with Everytown for Gun Safety, founded by the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, in 2013. Everytown bases its initiatives to stop gun violence in America based on research.

Patricia Boe is a volunteer leader with the Orange County chapter of Moms Demand Action. She was born in Newport Beach and moved up and down the west coast before settling in O.C. in 2012.

Boe is currently on the Chapter Leadership Team for the state of California. She is the co-lead for Federal Legislative Priorities which entails facilitating information and communication for federal lawmakers.

“The day after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I just had had enough of all the neverending headlines about school shootings and community gun violence,” Boe said, “I called Moms Demand action and started volunteering locally at events,” 

The tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas left 17 people dead and 17 injured and is the deadliest school shooting in the United States. The gunman used a semi-automatic rifle in his killing spree on Valentine’s Day in 2018. Stand with Parkland is a support group that advocates for the safety of students in public schools against gun violence.

Boe participated in a 10-day road trip that started in Northern California, Sacramento, Napa, the Golden Gate Bridge and then came down to Orange County promoting legislation for background checks. The seven separate banners which are making their way across the country gathering signatures of supporters will all come together in an event in Washington, D.C. later this week.

“There will be a mural of the banners with letters and photos from gun violence survivors urging the Senate to take action on background check legislation,” Boe said. “On the grassroots level, we work with politicians and lawmakers locally to pass gun violence prevention measures.”

All of the organizations in this lane of gun violence prevention and safety are supportive of the landmark initiatives in Biden’s Executive Order.

“As far as language is concerned, we don’t use the term ‘gun control,’” Boe said. “We are not here to take anyone’s guns away, but to promote action for gun violence prevention and gun safety to provide a safer community for our children to live in.”

Next week, Moms Demand Action will be meeting virtually for the region of Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley and Orange County to talk about legislative priorities and actions that members can take from home.

Chele Smith (left) and Gina Crofts waiting for Jason Aldean to come on stage in Las Vegas before the shooting on Oct. 1, 2017. Gina Crofts/Courtesy

Gina Crofts lives in Irvine with her husband and five children. She is a gun violence survivor from the massacre on Oct. 1, 2017, at a concert in Las Vegas. One gunman fired more than 1,100 rounds from an AR-15 within 10 minutes leaving 58 dead and 527 injured.

“The aftermath of an event like that is horrible,” Croft said. “ Healing from trauma takes time – I still have difficulty sleeping, nightmares, cold sweats, paralysis from loud consecutive noises, feeling jumpy, and sometimes, I can still hear gunfire in a song.”

Crofts was changed from this tragic event and has turned her pain into a clear purpose. Her mission today is to talk about gun sense laws and how change is needed. She wants to bring people together to have a conversation about gun violence, prevention and safety. 

“I want to bring people to the table for a discussion on how we can make our world a safer place,” she said. “In 1791, when the 2nd Amendment was ratified, the most common and powerful gun was a musket which could fire about three rounds per minute with a range accuracy of about 300 feet. That man fired from over 3,000 feet away with 100% accuracy.”

Gun violence survivors share different personal experiences, but the trauma is shared. The following video depicts personal experiences from survivors.

David Min was elected in 2020 to represent Orange County’s 37th State Senate District, which includes the cities of Anaheim Hills, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Newport Beach, Orange, Tustin, and Villa Park.

Senator Min is a native Californian who resides in Irvine with his wife, Jane Stoever, and their three young kids. Before joining the State Senate, Min was a law professor at UC Irvine, where he taught and researched in the area of business law.

Senate Bill 264, authored by Min, prohibits the sale of firearms from state employees and on state-funded property in California.

Representative Katie Porter is serving her second term as Congresswoman for the 45th District in California which serves parts of south and central Orange County. She lives in Irvine with her three children.

“No student should be afraid to go to school and no parent should fear their child may never come home,” Congresswoman Porter said. “For years, Congress has failed to pass meaningful legislation that would prevent gun violence. This inaction is traumatizing an entire generation.”

As a member of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Congresswoman Porter helped the House pass its most significant gun violence prevention legislation in decades. She co-sponsored the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which would require background checks on every gun sale in the country. Furthermore, she also backed the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019 to close the so-called “Charleston loophole” that allows a gun sale if a federal background check is not completed within three days—even if the buyer has a criminal record. 

“I’m proud the House passed two bills – the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Enhance Background Checks Act – last month to curb gun violence and keep our communities safe,” Congresswoman Porter said. “While these bills stalled last year in the Senate, I’m hopeful that this time around, our Senators will pass this critical, commonsense legislation so that it may finally be signed into law.”