Marin’s gun buyback draws bigger than expected as national gun debate heats up

The national gun debate continues to swell following the recent massacre of 19 school children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas – and as mass shootings continue in communities across the country, seemingly unabated.

In the Bay Area, a gun buyback organized by Marin County on Saturday drew a surprising number of people. And separately, hundreds of residents joined a march against guns across the Golden Gate Bridge.

“We expected a lot of people, but not that many people,” San Rafael Police Chief David Spiller said, looking at a line of cars outside the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, where the takeover weapons took place.

Marin County, in partnership with several local police departments and municipal governments, hosted the buyout event. It allows people to bring in guns they no longer want and drop them off, no questions asked. The firearms are then destroyed.

San Mateo County also held a gun buyback Saturday at a parking lot in south San Francisco.

Marin’s redemption event opened at 9 a.m. At that time, there were already dozens of cars waiting.

“I think people’s attitude towards guns is changing,” said Kate Colin, mayor of San Rafael. “After the mass killings we’ve seen recently, I think people are asking, ‘What can we do at home?’ “What they can do is this.

Traffic is visible near the Anonymous Gun Buyback Program at the Marin County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday.

Felix Uribe/Special at The Chronicle

Spiller said he expected the event to take hundreds of guns off the streets.

“It warms our hearts to see so many people here,” said Marin County District Attorney Lori Frugoli, adding that they had been fundraising for months. After the mass shooting at Uvalde Elementary School, she said, donations skyrocketed.

Brother and sister John Anderson and Ellin Purdom made their way to the takeover as soon as it opened – although they still had to wait in line. They had inherited several firearms from a stepfather – “he was a gunman”, Anderson said – and they wanted to “get rid of them”.

“It’s so awesome,” Purdom said. “We are so grateful to get them out of the house and out of the street.”

Meanwhile, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, organizers from Moms Demand Action, an advocacy group fighting for gun safety, were gathering for their annual Wear Orange March Against Gun Violence.

Shannon Watts, the group’s founder, said the event aims to raise awareness of the issue, this year and every year, and to “continue the momentum” in the fight to get politicians to pass more sensible safety laws. firearms.

“It’s about everyday gun violence,” she said. “Our anger and our radiance cannot subside.”

Several hours before the event, Petaluma police responded to a call just before midnight at the Roaring Donkey bar, where a patron threatened staff, saying he was going to “shoot” the establishment, officials said. The suspect left before police arrived, but the threat was found to be credible and several local bars decided to close early for the night. Police officials said they were carrying out additional patrols in the area.

A recent study by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions found that in 2020, there were an average of 124 people killed by a gun every day in the United States, up 15 from 2019.

Among the hundreds of attendees was MP Jackie Speier. Attendees of all ages held signs saying “Protect our children, not the guns” and “DO SOMETHING”.

Dr. Mike Schrader, president of the San Francisco Marin Medical Society, said it was important for him to join the march to raise awareness of gun violence and push for measures such as background checks and laws red flag, more phantom gun regulation and “reasonable restrictions” on firearms.

“So many people are being killed by gun violence of all kinds,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important.”

“I can’t even count the number of people I’ve seen injured or killed by firearms,” ​​added Dr. Monique Schaulis, emergency physician and former president of the group.

After a short rally, marchers carried their signs over the Golden Gate Bridge, quickly filling the pedestrian walkway with a sea of ​​orange.

“It’s a peaceful way to promote a sense of guns,” said Mimi Pratt, a volunteer with the San Francisco chapter of Moms Demand Action. “With all the work we do, it’s good to see everyone here and bring visibility to the issues.”

Danielle Echeverria is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]

About Chris Stevenson

Check Also

Iran indicts 11 in murder of paramilitary Basij

Iran has charged 11 people with the killing of a member of the Basij paramilitary …