The Chula Vista Police Department is taking the lead on a March 9 gun buy-back event, in collaboration with San Diego Sheriffs, the National City Police Department and San Diego District Attorney’s Office.
Chula Vista Police Lt. Roxana Kennedy is in charge of coordinating the event with the goal of getting operable unloaded guns out of the hands of people who don’t need or want them.
“We’re providing people with a safe avenue to bring their gun somewhere and prevent an opportunity for a child or a criminal to take that gun and use it,” Kennedy said.
All guns received will be destroyed.
“This isn’t about impacting responsible gun ownership — that’s never been the objective,” Chula Vista Police Capt. Gary Wedge said. “The objective is to try and reduce the number of guns, making them less accessible for people who intend to use them to commit crimes.”
The event comes on the heels of federal legislation to toughen gun laws.
During Tuesday’s council meeting, Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox brought forward a resolution to support the 2013 Assault Weapons Regulatory Act to prohibit the sale, transfer, importation or manufacture of military-style assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition-feeding devices, legislation proposed and to be implemented by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Chula Vista councilwoman Patricia Aguilar, who asked for council support to execute a weapons buy-back program during a Jan. 8 council meeting, seconded the motion.
“After Sandy Hook I started thinking, what could a city do — a municipality — that would help?” she said. “I think one of the advantages of the gun buyback programs is they are not really controversial because if you don’t want to turn in your gun you don’t have to it’s totally voluntary. This is a small thing that we as a city could do to help the program.”
Her point of view, she said, stems from the fact that she has loved ones who currently serve or have served in a law enforcement capacity.
“For their protection it seems the best thing is to get as many high-capacity guns off the street, not because we’re trying to take these things away from law abiding citizens, the problem is criminals,” Aguilar said. “It seems to me for the safety of all of us the fewer of these kind of weapons that are out there the better.”
A handful of public speakers made comments in opposition to the resolution.
Hugh Copeland said he largely supports law enforcement.
“I think that this regulation is not going to change a thing,” Copeland said. “Taking away guns has been clearly shown to increase crime.”
Another citizen opposed to the legislation is a retired Vietnam veteran.
“I saved the lives of my mother, my brother and my sister with a gun, I’ve written a book about it … when you’re facing the evil we’re facing today we need all the defense we can muster,” Billy Falling said.
Retired Army Capt. Joe Martinez has decades of shooting experience and said the bill is nothing more than an infringement of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“…Should the time come that we have some nut job that decides to cut loose on some of our children, my children or my grandchildren, I’m (going to) be really glad that I’ve got a 30-round mag that I can back up my city officers with,” he said.
Gun buy-back participants will be given a gift card, likely $50 each, according to Kennedy.
Firearms must be unloaded, transported in a locked container — not a vehicle’s glove box — or in the trunk, preferably both.
People interested in donating firearms in the future should call (619) 691-5151.
The event will be held at the South Bay courthouse from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants should enter the parking lot west of the county assessors office near I Street.