Gun violence forum in Napa becomes tense

Napa meeting on guns

January 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Passions ran high Tuesday night during the first of several gun violence forums in the Bay Area. These meetings were triggered by the elementary school shootings in Connecticut and hundreds of people with differing opinions on gun rights filled Napa City Hall.

After more than two hours, the event wrapped up Tuesday night. The event was built as a chance to let a local congressman to hear from citizens about ways to stop gun violence, but also to deal with issues with mental health programs and violence in the entertainment industry.

The evening featured passionate give and take on the subject of gun control and gun rights.

"For you to sit there and try to limit and encourage people to limit our Constitution is just appalling," said Napa resident Kevin Goza.

At times, the man getting the backlash was Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who was just appointed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to lead a gun violence prevention task force.

It follows the mass shooting of 20 elementary school children and seven adults last month in Newtown, Connecticut. Thompson wants to ban the type of semi-automatic rifle used in that attack.

"As a gun owner and hunter, I don't think they do us any good. I think it's a cloud over our heads and I don't think they should be in our communities and I don't think they should be on our streets," said Thompson.

The overflow crowd of about 200 spilled down the hallway of Napa City Hall. They heard a few speakers repeat the RNA's call to have armed guards in all schools.

"Those kids might have been alive if a few of the office personnel or some of the people had a concealed carry permit?to protect our children," said Napa resident Paul Warnock.

That idea did not go unchallenged.

"And I know I'm going to get booed, but when I listen to the leadership of the NRA saying we need more guns in the schools, I could vomit," said American Canyon resident Joan Bennett.

Speakers called for better mental health programs and blamed a reliance on pharmaceuticals.

"It seems like now society is throwing pills to these young men like Tic Tacs," said Napa resident Mike Desimoni.

And media coverage of shootings also took a hit.

"...because of them it makes shooting of a school library, a post office, something glorified," said Napa resident Jordan Jinks.

Thompson will hold a similar forum on Wednesday in Vallejo and on Thursday in Santa Rosa. He'll then take his ideas back to Washington for possible legislation.

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