The Benicia City Council voted Tuesday to voice its support for a Congressional task force seeking to reduce gun violence.
The council was discussing a resolution that would be sent to Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), who chairs the recently created Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. A letter included in the staff report signed by Mayor Elizabeth Patterson and Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis has already been submitted to Thompson's office.
Council members said they wanted to show their support for more stringent gun regulation while preserving the Second Amendment.
"In speaking with [Thompson] I believe he is truly looking out for the Second Amendment and people's rights to own guns, but he wants to do it in a common sense way," Council Member Alan Schwartzman said.
At least one resident in attendance disagreed. Dennis Lowry said any increases in gun control will needlessly punish law-abiding citizens.
"A little bit is a lot when it comes to constitutional rights," Lowry told the council.
Patterson said the resolution and any changes proposed by the task force likely wouldn't affect California, because the state already has such strict gun laws.
The resolution being discussed Tuesday mostly voiced support for "the work of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force," but also included two points that led to disagreement among the council. The resolution stated that "meaningful regulation of assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines is needed," and also indicated support for stronger background checks and safeguards against those with mental health issues owning guns.
Council Member Mark Hughes said the council should be less specific and let the task force make its own decisions about possible solutions.
"Something needs to be done to address the issue, but I'm not comfortable saying this is exactly what I support," he said.
Council Member Christina Strawbridge said she had a cousin who shot himself at 18; the cousin had mental health issues that weren't properly addressed, and she wanted to be sure to show support for mental health treatment, she said.
The resulting disagreement led to the council approving the resolution twice: once by a 3-2 vote without the sections on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and mental health treatment, and once by a 4-1 vote with those section in tact. The latter version, which Hughes opposed, will be sent to the congressman's office.
The Benicia school board will discuss a similar item Thursday evening. Click here for more information.
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