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Supervisors approve county task force on gun violence

County policymakers also direct safety assessment of county school districts

Posted: January 8, 2013 1:36 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2013 1:36 p.m.

Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a countywide study on ways to lessen instances of gun violence.

The vote also called for an assessment of county public school districts to ensure they comply fully with their state-mandated safety plans.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas presented the plan as part of a response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left more than 20 dead last month.

“We don’t have to look across the country for examples of the heartbreak and devastation caused by gun violence,” Ridley-Thomas said during the board meeting. “We know it intimately here.”

With board approval, the county superintendent of schools will survey each of the county’s 80 public school districts for safety compliance.

Superintendents at the Castaic Union, Newhall, Saugus Union, Sulphur Springs and William S. Hart Union High school districts previously told The Signal their districts are in full compliance with state safety mandates.

The supervisors’ vote also directs county CEO William T. Fujioka to collaborate with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and Internal Services departments to conduct safety reviews of all county facilities.

The board-approved motion also directs Fujioka to work with the Countywide Criminal Justice Coordination Committee to call together a task force to identify and recommend ways to reduce county gun violence.

That task force would include law enforcement representatives and mental and public health officials and would examine how to both enforce and revise existing gun laws, as well as target stigmas associated with mental health illness and treatment.

“Mentally ill people do not often receive the treatment they need,” Ridley-Thomas said. “I hope that we keep both issues (gun violence and mental health) in tandem.”

The board also voted to give tentative support to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s attempt to implement a revised nationwide ban on assault weapons. The original assault weapons ban expired in 2004.

“We can respect the Second Amendment,” Ridley-Thomas said. “But we can also endeavor to save lives — and we should.”

After a discussion, the supervisors voted 4-1 to give board approval to the concept of such a ban, barring any major substantive changes from the original language of the ban.

“If you support it outright now, there could eventually be all sorts of amendments in there that we wouldn’t support,” said Supervisor Don Knabe.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich was the lone dissenting vote on the matter.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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