Report: Gun Violence Forum Packs Napa City Hall

Our full report on Congressman Mike Thompson's forum on gun violence Tuesday night at Napa City Hall, where a standing-room-only crowd turned out and 65 people made public comments at the microphone.

Mental health, education, stricter background checks and violent video games were the hot topics for about 200 emotionally charged people who showed up to voice their opinions at a public forum on gun violence prevention on Tuesday night.

The town hall-style meeting, overseen by U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson and moderated by Napa Mayor Jill Techel, drew a packed crowd to Napa City Hall, with people lining the walls and filling the lobby where folding chairs were brought in to accommodate the crowd.

"800 gun deaths since Newtown"

The horrific Dec. 22, 2012 shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that killed 20 children and six adults has sparked an outcry for gun violence prevention across the country.

“Since the Newtown (Conn.) shooting 800 people have been killed by guns,” Thompson said. “It’s an extremely complicated issue.”

After brief introductions, a public comment period saw 65 people take the microphone in turn. Some offered their suggested solutions to the rising gun violence and others were there to make sure their Second Amendment rights were protected.

“Taking away our guns is not the answer,” said Pam Silleman.

“Pam, no one is going to take away your guns," Thompson responded as some in the audience jeered or muttered obscenities under their breath.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled people have the right to own firearms,” Thompson said. But, he added more than once during the evening, the law of the land also pemits gun ownership to be regulated.

Ed Estin said “Taking guns away is not the issue here. Do you think legalizing assault weapons is the answer? Hell no. You think I would feel more safe knowing people in this room were armed? Hell no.”

License, insure gun owners like car drivers?

While many challenged Thompson about his promise to preserve the Second Amendment, others offered solutions to decrease the senseless firearm killings.

Linda Georgette suggested gun ownership be regulated the way driving is: “Make people get their gun licenses periodically renewed like they do with drivers licenses,” she said.

Liz Thompson suggested gun owners be required to take out insurance on their guns, “just like car insurance. And gun dealers need to be more responsible. We need to increase surveillance over the amount of ammo sold.”

"I could vomit"

Another speaker, who didn’t give his name, said the answer was to have armed guards in every school.

“We have them in banks to protect our money. Why not in schools to protect our children?”, he said. “I watched the Newtown shootings coverage on TV, and saw police, SWAT teams all arrived too late to save those kids.”

But American Canyon city council member Joan Bennett vigorously opposed that view.

"When I hear the leadership of the NRA say we need more guns in the schools, I could vomit," Bennett said, drawing explosive applause and cheers.

Media, mental health system blamed

Mental health issues predominated in the public comments: Many speakers said they wanted the government to focus on how mentally disturbed people get their hands on assault weapons.

One man wanted a “mental health watch list. Most of these mass murderers have had mental health issues,” he said.

Jay Hansen accused the mental health system of “letting these people down. Instead of restricting gun (ownership) laws, why don’t you spend that time and money dealing with the mental health issues?”

Another man urged Thompson to look into how people who commit massive acts of gun violence get access to firearms, “many of whom have mental problems.

"I own guns and have to fill out a lengthy form to buy a gun. I have to register my guns. How are these crazy people getting their hands on an arsenal of firearms? There must be a tighter rein on these people.”

Marjorie Moeller of demanded the media take a more responsible role in gun violence.

“We are over saturated with the continual coverage of these horrific murders, suicides and deaths. It has the copy-cat effect. We need to hold the media accountable.”

Jordan Jenks also questioned the media’s responsibility.

“I grew up with guns, and I play video games. But it makes no sense to me to censor a woman’s naked bosom, but (allow) a man’s head exploding,” he said. “The media glorifies violence.”

Other speakers rallied for education on gun safety and the use of firearms. A few spoke of restoring government funding for gun safety education.

Most firearms owners said they don’t have a problem with background checks. When Thompson asked a show of hands from the audience of those who had a problem, only a smattering of hands went up.

"Armed and Prohibited"

In 2006, the State Department of Justice introduced the Armed and Prohibited statute, which put together a list of people who legally bought guns and then became ineligible to posses a firearm.

There are 19,000 people on the list who are associated with 39,000 firearms, DOF Special Agent John Marsh told  the crowd.

The statute provides a cross reference for those buying guns who have become felons, suffering from mental disorders or have domestic violence restraining orders against them.

“We have 33 agents working the statute statewide," he said.

Thompson heads the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in Washington D.C. He is conducting public forums nationwide, gathering feedback for the committee.

Tuesday's forum was cablecast live by Napa Valley TV, which is planning to show it again soon. Click the "Keep me posted" button below for an automatic update when we publish the scheduled time.

Did you attend the forum? Do you feel that all voices were heard? Tell us in the comments.

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Mike Treleven January 10, 2013 at 02:41 AM
After reading this it seems more people spoke to protect their 2nd Amendment rights and a handful gave thought of how best to deal with this tragic incident. We'e got to quit killing innocent children in our schools.
Julie DeSoto January 10, 2013 at 04:33 AM
I was really surprised to see some shots of the meeting on Rachel Maddow (MSNBC) tonight....pretty amazing actually. Made me proud to be a citizen of Napa, showing the country that you can have a civilized conversation.
MICHAEL P WILSON "Independent Kid" January 10, 2013 at 04:36 AM
Update to the question http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/01/09/179447/as-new-fiscal-crises-near-democrats.html
Wire January 10, 2013 at 05:23 AM
How to stop the killing in schools. First you need responsible parents, oh that right it was a NON-RESPONSIBLE parent! If she was afraid of him burning his feet, arm pits those guns should had been locked up.Then responsible shrinks, 0h that's right guns were not locked up, then the government approve killing drugs, yes, all school shooting have two thing in common, Government approved brain HAPPY DRUGS, and then the gun. Every murder HAD been on HAPPY DRUGS, HAPPY DRUGS you don't hear this, it's the GUN! GUN! Not the sick person behind that trigger on FDA approved drugs. These record will be locked up for ever. Don't forget FAST AND FERROUS MURDERS by our leader's government approval. Aren't you happy you don't live in the East 14th Street Oakland, or San Jose, or the Tenderloin, or Sacramento South. These are democratic party run governments. In the Middle East they post an AK-47 on every street corner by their military. We can stop this gun free zones idea as a start. 0ne a big start! The idea there's a weapon or weapons on school property as a threat. In the end those murders kill themselves by their own hand.
Lorie January 10, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Wire, Thank you for bringing this up again! Oh yes, those "Happy Drugs"...the real ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM that no one wants to really talk about. Guilt, perhaps? http://www.cchrint.org/2012/07/20/the-aurora-colorado-tragedy-another-senseless-shooting-another-psychotropic-drug/
Lorie January 10, 2013 at 04:28 PM
"We'e got to quit killing innocent children in our schools..." Agree!...Let's start by identifying who is "WE": "...At least fourteen recent school shootings were committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 109 wounded and 58 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs.) The most important fact about this list, is that these are only the shooters where the information about their psychiatric drug use was made public. To give an example, although it is known that James Holmes, suspected perpetrator of a mass shooting that occurred July 20, 2012, at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, was seeing psychiatrist Lynne Fenton, no mention has been made of what psychiatric drugs he may have been taking. Also note that all these mass shootings didn’t just occur in the United States..." http://www.cchrint.org/school-shooters/
bucket January 10, 2013 at 04:49 PM
We all grieve these tragedies & particularly when innocent children are involved. Yet, I don’t get the picking & choosing of what is heinous, acceptable and actionable. We know when there are children involved in the headline it is an opportunity to capture a response & to move particular agendas along. But, where is the outcry for the children, millions of them that are terminated with no voice or choice. Should we ban suction tubes? The center for Disease control has published an abortion takes place every 38 seconds…I just don’t get how these children with heartbeats don’t matter… Gun or suction tube they are dead...never even got a chance to go to school, day one. I don't speak for, or have anything to do with any group, but I can't help but think about these things and why we seem to ignore some deaths of the innocent while speak out about others; how we seem to make exceptions, justify and qualify.
Wire January 10, 2013 at 04:53 PM
The Batman shooting in Aurora, Phoenix's Gabby shooting, plus that Virginia Tech massacre they were all taking HAPPY DRUGS same drugs approve by our FDA. I feel so much better knowing guns kill people not the FDA. A must watch video: GOOGLE Reality Check: Piers Morgan vs. Alex Jones, and the truth about gun homicide rates http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html#ixzz2HQDkC3re http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list#data
Burt January 10, 2013 at 07:17 PM
You make valid points.Thank you.
Wire January 10, 2013 at 09:18 PM
Sense Pierce Morgan stats we have seen on tv or heard. That we have more violent crime in USA vs Great Britain It's easy to watch a cool head http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWNOiw_XIV8
Belle (Orchid Lady) January 11, 2013 at 02:10 AM
Spin,spin,spin. That's all anyone does anymore. Attack the other side, stop listening at the first point you and someone disagree, categorize them, pick and choose, blah,blah,blah. We won't have solutions EVER if people keep sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting at the top of their lungs things that extremists from all sides tell you is the "agenda". Sick of what this country is turning in to when it comes to having productive debates. Hell I'd go for people just THINKING for themselves. No, this is not aimed at anyone specific. It's my conclusion after reading many comment sections, and watching news channels with conflicting political positions.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 12, 2013 at 05:40 PM
I don't think it is possible to talk in an informed way about the history and context of the Second Amendment without having read this article by American historian Garry Wills: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1995/sep/21/to-keep-and-bear-arms/
Belle (Orchid Lady) January 12, 2013 at 09:14 PM
Good link Louisa! Thanks.
Wire January 12, 2013 at 09:40 PM
FBI STATS In 2011 3.5 homicides were caused by rifles That most feared ASSAULT RIFLE is a subsisted weapon under rifle. Weapons used during homicides this includes police killing the bad guy's Anyone want to look that up? 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Total 14,916 14,224 13,752 13,164 12,664 Total firearms: 10,129 9,528 9,199 8,874 8,583 Down Handguns 7,398 6,800 6,501 6,115 6,220 Down Rifles 453 380 351 367 323 Down Shotguns 457 442 423 366 356 Down Other guns 116 81 96 93 97 Down Firearms, type not stated 1,705 1,825 1,828 1,933 1,587 Down Knives or cutting instruments 1,817 1,888 1,836 1,732 1,694 Down Blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.) 647 603 623 549 496 Down Personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)1 869 875 817 769 728 Down Poison 10 9 7 11 5 Down Explosives 1 11 2 4 12 UP Fire 131 85 98 78 75 Down Narcotics 52 34 52 45 29 Down Drowning 12 16 8 10 15 UP Strangulation 134 89 122 122 85 Down Asphyxiation 109 87 84 98 89 Down Other weapons or weapons not stated 1,005 999 904 872 853 Down Now if one really want to fix the crime problem the population areas over 200,000 need JOBS we all know where the crimes are commented. Interesting factoid over 800,000 little heart beats were murdered in 2008. Some claim not enough. Little heart beats murdered 2011,. EST. 1,225,000 UP Abortion Index - Movement for a Better America
Wire January 12, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Violent Crime http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/resolveuid/c5f1e722-cf65-42ad-b51b-4dd4956fdbd2
Wire January 12, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Study Examines Police Use Of Deadly Force - CBS News www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-3359288.html 2010, 2,000 were not locked up but put in BOOTHILL. So out of 13,752 two thousand of that figure were police kills.
Wire January 13, 2013 at 10:04 PM
KHOU.com Local News Robbery victim wants to thank Good Samaritans who came to his rescue both had hand guns. http://www.khou.com/home/Robbery-victim-wants-to-thank-Good-Samaritans-who-came-to-his-rescue--186572461.html
Wire January 13, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Burt 1:47 pm on Wednesday, January 9, 2013 This video really puts things into prospective. "...800 gun deaths since Newtown" Where did this data come from? Please take six minutes to watch the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ooa98FHuaU0 GREAT VIDEO!
Wire January 14, 2013 at 03:05 AM
Don't forget with all the assault weapon or stile weapons, those murders South of the border peoples have very stiff gun controls.How is it working out down there.
Cathy Gumina Odom January 19, 2013 at 01:22 PM
After just watching "Full Metal Jacket" I'm wondering if he might have meant "Joker" from that movie, combined with, or not, Batman? Watch it again. 1987 movie. I even put all my electronic devices down. Riveting.
Summer January 19, 2013 at 05:21 PM
I support reasonable gun control, but I do believe that access to QUALITY mental health services is more important. An Assault weapons or high-capacity clip ban, for example, may prevent or decrease the severity of mass killings, but it's unlike to prevent domestic violence and other killings. When mental illnesses are untreated, people suffer with or without guns.
Wire January 19, 2013 at 05:42 PM
Anyone ever hear of Ely Bernays, read about him please. You have just been BERNAYSED for weeks.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 19, 2013 at 06:04 PM
Are you talking about the late Edward Bernays? I knew him in Cambridge; we had mutual friends and visited each other's homes for holiday events. He was a very sweet old gentleman and was also known as the Father of Public Relations. Here is a link to his obituary from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/08/16/specials/bernays-obit.html
Wire January 19, 2013 at 07:08 PM
Nope his father, was Ely Bernays, brother of Freud's wife Martha Bernays. ... It was through Bernays that women's smoking habits started to become socially acceptable.
Wire January 19, 2013 at 07:14 PM
It was Edward Ely.
Belle (Orchid Lady) January 19, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Louisa-Ely was his father I think. Btw-your moderator authority is required in the "pres. inauguration" thread. Really sick comment posted, and I can't flag from my tablet. Seriously, if it had been said to me I'd have a hard time NOT knocking his teeth out.
Belle (Orchid Lady) January 19, 2013 at 07:35 PM
And IF he used a real name, not the name of a rapper.
Belle (Orchid Lady) January 19, 2013 at 11:49 PM
I googled Edward Ely Wire, and didn't find anything that seemed to be who you were referring to. Wanna just tell me who he is?
Wire January 20, 2013 at 12:04 AM
I mean Edward not Ely.
Belle (Orchid Lady) January 20, 2013 at 08:28 PM
Oh, OK. Thanks Wire.


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