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Gun Buy Back

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The District Attorney is proud to be co-sponsoring Santa Clara County's first major gun buyback in years: www.sccgunbuyback.com.

The District Attorney's comments at a Feb. 13, 2013 press conference announcing the buyback:

Thirty-two dead at Virgina Tech.  Twelve dead in Aurora, Colorado. Twenty-six dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

There is a Sandy Hook every year in Santa Clara County.  Last year, 36 people were gunned down here in homicides. The year before - 37.  Unlike Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, or Aurora, the victims in our county were not gathered in their classrooms, on campus or watching a movie.  Our tragedies come annually, spread over time and in places such as Gilroy, and San Jose and Santa Clara; in bedrooms, streets, stores and parking lots.  Maybe it’s less shocking that way. For too many of us, it’s not shocking at all. 

Many of these gun crimes come with a fatal mix of opportunity and passion: the suicides, the drunken fights, arguments between spouses, or neighborhood disputes that spark into violence and death.  Four people were gunned down in Domestic Violence homicides last year. Gun suicides are rife.  Other deaths strike more innocently, but no less tragically: as when a curious child is accidentally killed with a gun.

What would have happened if there had not been a gun at hand?

When I think of Sandy Hook, I also think of gang guns, passed from member to member.  In two cases here in recent years, guns found in the hands of gang members were traced by criminalists to other killings, or to threats against police officers.  Imagine a gun used to take the life of person after person.

Perhaps we will buy back that gun, or two of them, or three during this event in a couple of weeks.  How many precious, priceless lives are we buying back, are we literally redeeming, for a few hundred dollars?

We will never know.  We will also never know at the end of this gun buy back how many children will not stumble upon a loaded handgun, and then grow up; how many people will escape their batterers, how many store clerks will survive, how many gang drive-bys will just drive on by.

These are some of the things that came to my mind when I heard about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I know that most guns will never end up in the hands of a criminal or a child.  They are properly locked away.  But I hope those of you who are worried about the weapons in your homes will take this moment to think about Virginia Tech and Aurora and Sandy Hook, and think about your own neighborhood.  On March 2, I hope you will consider turning that concern into cash and in doing so, help us all create a safer community.