Gun talk brings out community leaders; residents feel safe
Rep. Ro Khanna calls the inability of the U.S. Congress to take action on gun violence “shameful.” At a Saturday forum on community and school safety in Milpitas, Khanna said the solutions are available.
“We know what needs to be done,” Khanna, D-Fremont said to the nearly 50 residents gathered for Table Talk at the Milpitas Community Center presented by the city of Milpitas and the Milpitas Unified School District.
But his opinions didn’t completely reflect the status of gun sales in the state.
Meeting participants were provided with a report from an April 28 community summit on firearms and safety held by Santa Clara County at the fairgrounds in San Jose. The report said that California continues to sell firearms at an increasing rate, citing data from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. A total of 1.3 million guns were sold legally in the state in 2016, the report noted.
Khanna cited universal background checks without loopholes and getting assault weapons off the street as necessary measures.
Forum participants generated ideas that include creating a safety culture where everybody knows what to do during an incident and starting a tip line for students to call about safety issues.
City Manager Julie Edmonds-Mares said Milpitas has been fortunate to avoid serious incidents and has dealt with “nothing worse than lockdowns.”
DiAngelo Jacquez, 17, who organized a student-led protest at Milpitas High School after the Feb. 14 shooting at a Florida high school, attended the forum. DiAngelo said he feels safe at Milpitas High School.
Milpitas City Councilman Bob Nunez echoed that sentiment at his work, but in that 1 percent of time when he doesn’t feel safe, he looks at ways to improve safety.
The city of about 77,000 residents doesn’t “have some of the of the same issues the larger cities do,” Nunez said.
Indeed it is community safety that drives Milpitas Police Chief Armando Corpuz to ensure residents and visitors feel free of fear when walking the streets and going to stores, he said during the conversation.
Milpitas High School Principal Francis Rojas said classrooms are “microcosms of our community.”
“You can’t learn unless you have peace of mind,” Rojas said.
Chris Norwood, a school district trustee, told the crowd that “Milpitas has this habit of taking care of Milpitas” then added local officials are now working on safety with county, state and federal lawmakers.
The discussion of well-being was raised by state Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, who wants a mental health professional at every school to alleviate problems that can lead to violence. And this topic brought in one of the voices rarely heard in gun debates.
Robert Mize, pastor the Cathedral of Faith in Milpitas, called for churches to help solve safety issues.
“Places of worship should not separate from the community,” said Mize.
“It’s more than a topic,” said Cheryl Jordan, school district superintendent. “It’s coming together in the community.”
Milpitas school district trustee Norwood spoke at the end of the forum about living for more than 40 years in the city.
“I grew up with a large sense of community,” Norwood said. “I’m hoping this group can continue to renew that.”
In March, Jordan issued a blog post about the Great Mills High School in Southern Maryland and how the district would respond to a similar situation. Read her entire post at: musd.org/superintendent-blog.