By Ted AYALA
Gun control, a topic long thought to be risky for politicians to touch, has again emerged to the fore of public debate, with gun opponents energized by last month’s devastating massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Perpetrated by 21-year-old Adam Lanza, who had a history of mental illness, the assailant first murdered his mother in her sleep before driving to the school he once attended as a child and murdered 26 students and staff before turning the gun on himself.
Though the debate is seen as being fought at the national level, numerous battles over guns have erupted in cities and towns across the country. Gun lobbyists and supporters criticize these efforts as maneuvers that exploit a tragedy in order to weaken their Second Amendment rights. Opponents of firearms contend that their aim is to prevent access to dangerous weapons that may facilitate future violence.
A taste of the debate at the local level was glimpsed Tuesday when members of the public verbally grappled against one another over the effort by Glendale City Councilmember Rafi Manoukian to prohibit gun shows within the city limits of Glendale.
His proposal would ban the sale of firearms within 1,000 feet of Glendale Community College – effectively ending the Glendale Gun Show that operates out of the Glendale Civic Auditorium across the street. The show runs for three weekends a year and fills the city coffers with revenue from parking and rentals by gun enthusiasts.
Though it received a mixed reaction from his colleagues, the reaction from the public, as demonstrated during Tuesday’s oral communication portion of the city council meeting, has been passionate on both sides of the debate.
Jay Randall, who spoke against Manoukian’s proposal, referred to such as a ban as “punishing the innocent for the actions of the guilty.”
“What does [this proposal] really accomplish?” he asked. “The murder rate in Glendale has been zero for the past few years. This [proposal] does nothing for us. Have any of you ever been to the Glendale Gun Show ever? You’ll find a group of law-abiding people there. Banning the gun show will not add to our safety or our security.”
Roberta Medford countered Randall’s points by saying “that we have an opportunity here for more gun responsibility.”
“I agree with Manoukian’s efforts to ban these shows,” she said. “There is no reason for Glendale to make access to guns any easier. The [revenue the show] brings to the city will neither make nor break our budget. Standing up for gun sanity may even attract new vendors to the Civic Auditorium.”
Council will review Manoukian’s proposal later this month.