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Gun violence prevention doesn’t have to be an issue of extremes, advocate tells Bird Rock council

Ron Marcus, president of San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention (bottom center) addresses the Bird Rock Community Council.
Ron Marcus, president of San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention (bottom center) addresses the Bird Rock Community Council during its Oct. 5 meeting.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Hoping to dispel what he called the “one polarizing narrative that seems to be prevalent” in the complex issue of gun ownership, Ron Marcus, president of San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, spoke at the Oct. 5 Bird Rock Community Council meeting to explain the concepts and initiatives his group supports.

He said a common perception is that there are only extreme ends of the gun issue — “people that are Second Amendment rights activists on one end, then … the ‘gun grabbers’ on the other side.”

“There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground,” he said.

The reality, Marcus argued, is “very different.”

He said San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, or SD4GVP, “represents the majority of Americans that simply want to have good safety checks in place to keep guns from falling into the hands of those that shouldn’t have them.”

He said the group advocates improved education for gun owners, suicide prevention, regulation of “ghost guns” and enforcement of “red flag laws.”

“We lobby for common-sense gun legislation but also just educating households, schools and parents on how to safely store your guns,” he said. “Most parents that hide their guns in the house think they have done a good job of keeping the kids from knowing where the guns are, but in 75 percent of households with guns, the kids know where they are.”

Marcus said the mission includes suicide prevention because “if someone is in a bad place for any number of reasons and have access to a gun, they are far more likely to accomplish suicide than if they didn’t have the gun nearby. … So we are trying to deal with those that might be facing mental trauma and intercept those folks before they have the opportunity to get the gun.”

Last month, the San Diego City Council passed an ordinance targeting ghost guns, which are assembled by hand from parts that sometimes come in prepackaged kits. The ordinance makes it illegal to buy and sell gun parts in the city that cannot be traced by law enforcement.

“The rate of ghost guns that have been confiscated by police has shot up astronomically in the last year,” Marcus said. SD4GVP supports the ordinance and hopes ghost guns will be regulated like other firearms, he said.

The group also supports red flag laws, in which “if you are in a situation where a family member may be dangerous ... and they have access to a gun … you can report that to the police and appeal to have the courts take their guns away,” Marcus said.

“I feel like owning a gun should be like owning a car. There should be the same kinds of licensing and testing. Liability insurance would be a good idea, and if someone is irresponsible in their handling of a gun, they might lose their right to use that gun, just like a car,” Marcus said. “We’re all for allowing those that want to use their guns responsibly. Those that can take that seriously should have that right. But those that aren’t taking it seriously or those that are unsafe to have a gun, we want to keep them safe. Our goal is to keep people from getting killed.”

After the group’s formation as a spinoff of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence — named for James Brady, the White House press secretary who was permanently disabled in 1981 during the attempted assassination of then-President Ronald Reagan — it was galvanized after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 in Newtown, Conn.

The Community Council took no action after Marcus’ talk, though BRCC President John Newsam said, “I personally support what you are doing; it makes great sense to me.” ◆