Two mayors from the Napa Valley are among at least 20 in the Bay Area – and more than 250 across the country – who have signed a letter addressed to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, calling for action on gun violence legislation in the wake of recent mass shootings.
The letter by the U.S. Conference of Mayors urges the Senate leaders to “immediately call the Senate back to Washington to take action on bipartisan gun safety legislation.” Authors call on the Senate, which is in recess until Sept. 9, to follow the lead of the House of Representatives, which in February passed two bills that would increase the requirements for background checks before firearm purchases.
Mayors note that there have been over 250 mass shootings throughout the country this year, including ones last weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The group asks the Senate to take action on two bills passed in February by the U.S. House of Representatives to strengthen background checks for gun purchases.
Among the signers are Mayor John Dunbar of Yountville – where a March 2018 shooting claimed the lives of three clinicians at The Pathway Home – and Mayor Jill Techel of Napa, the hometown of Alaina Housley, one of 12 people killed in the November mass shooting in Thousand Oaks.
“I was personally impacted along with the entire community by both events in 2018,” Dunbar, a member of Pathway’s board, said Monday afternoon. “So I feel the pain of that, and I understand looking at it from community perspective, and from an elected leader perspective, how challenging it is and how helpless it feels when an incident like this happens in any of our communities.
“So yes, it’s more personal for me, but it’s personal for many people in our community. They expect us to lead and take action on behalf of their safety and security.”
According to Dunbar, the Conference of Mayors shared a draft of its statement to its members on Thursday, less than a week after the Aug. 3 attack in which 22 people were killed at an El Paso Wal-Mart. Less than 24 hours later, nine people died when a shooter opened fire in Dayton.
Signers of the letter to McConnell and Schumer urged the Senate to support House Resolutions 8 and 1112. The first bill, introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, would require background checks on all gun sales and ban unlicensed firearm transfers between private parties. The second bill would extend the background check review period from three business days to 10.
“This is not outlawing guns; this is to help create a safer environment for all if us,” said Dunbar. “I respect the fact that people are allowed to lawfully own firearms, but we want to do what we can to keep them out of the hands of people who should not have them and who are a higher risk of committing violence.”
Attempts to contact Techel were unsuccessful on Monday.
The other Bay Area mayors to sign the letter include: Marilyn Ezzy, Alameda; Rochelle Nason, Albany; Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley; David Gregory, Dublin; Lisa Yarborough-Gauthier, East Palo Alto; Sam Hindi, Foster City; Lily Mei, Fremont; Barbara Halliday, Hayward; John P. Marchland, Livermore; Ray Mueller, Menlo Park; Lisa Matichak, Mountain View; Libby Schaaf, Oakland; Eric Filseth, Palo Alto; Teresa Barrett, Petaluma; Thomas K. Butt, Richmond; London Breed, San Francisco; Sam Liccardo, San Jose; Pauline Russo Cutter, San Leandro; Michael D. Tubbs, Stockton; and Carol Dutra-Vernaci, Union City.