With the recent tragic shootings across the Nation including Uvalde Texas, there is encouragement with the historic bipartisan action taken by Congress. It’s been challenging to balance an individual’s 2nd Amendment rights while protecting public safety. Recent action taken by Congress will make a difference.

Although California has 108 laws relating to firearms, the most of any State, violence involving firearms still happens. California law requires gun owners to store weapons safely and securely to keep them from children and adults who are prohibited from having firearms. Still, between 2012 and 2017, almost 200,000 turned up stolen in California. 

The City of Scotts Valley offers free gun locks. Locks are available in the lobby of Scotts Valley PD. Persons with unwanted firearms or ammunition are encouraged to contact Scotts Valley Police Department to safely surrender them. Firearms should be transported unloaded secured in the vehicle trunk without ammunition in the trunk. An officer will meet the person in the Police Department parking lot to safely take possession of the firearm and/or ammunition and document disposal. It’s helpful to call in advance to arrange the surrender if possible. 

Scotts Valley Police Department will be participating in a County-wide gun buy-back program. When details are available, information will be released to the media and posted on Scotts Valley Police Department’s social media and the City’s website.

Active Shooter/ MCI training

The City of Scotts Valley is proud to have hosted an annual Active Shooter/Mass Casualty Incident training coordinated by UCSC Police Department. This is the tenth anniversary of this groundbreaking training. Not only does every County law enforcement and fire agency participate in this training, but over 400 First Responders from all over the State traveled to Scotts Valley to participate. The training has evolved to include not only law enforcement and firefighters but also EMS, Federal Investigators, Red Cross and more. 

As a retired Scotts Valley Police Sergeant, I regularly participated in important training. Still, nothing compares to training with other county First Responders who will respond to assist with these types of calls. 

The training starts with law enforcement and fire personnel’s initial response to a Mass Casualty Incident. Training includes responding to and encountering an active shooter, administering on-site first aid, extracting casualties, and setting up safety corridors for fire personnel to treat critically wounded. 

Training scenarios become progressively more difficult involving Simunition guns, multiple role players with various injuries that need to be treated, other dangers that teams must navigate, and an Incident Command Post with dispatchers. This allows all the First Responders an opportunity to train together and learn from each other in an extremely stressful environment. Because this training program is known to be the only one of its kind, First Responders travel from some distance to participate. The program has continually evolved as instructors learn from mass casualty incidents (MCIs) in other areas and recruit First Responders who have experienced MCIs to share their knowledge. 

Although everyone hopes they never experience an active shooter or mass casualty incident, there is comfort in knowing that all First Responders in Santa Cruz County have trained together and are prepared. This preparation allows them to respond more quickly in a coordinated manner. This has not been the case in other areas that have experienced tragedy. However, this training is not without cost. During the recent training, local legislators were invited to see the training in process. It’s hoped legislators will advocate for funding to continue this life-saving one-of-a-kind training program.

A common factor in almost every active shooter or mass casualty incident is that the person responsible left clues or said something. It is important that if someone hears something, they say something. Information can be reported anonymously at the Scotts Valley Anonymous Tip Line at 831-438-8090.

California Red Flag Laws

In 2014, California passed a “Red Flag Law” regarding the confiscation of firearms known as a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO).  In addition to law enforcement, this allows family, employers and in some cases co-workers or teachers to seek a GVRO.  This order temporarily removes firearms from someone deemed to be a danger to themselves or someone else.  The GVRO is reviewed by a judge for approval.  Approval requires clear and convincing evidence that’s necessary based on the evidence presented.  If granted, law enforcement will seize all firearms from the person. The person is prevented from owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving any firearm or ammo for a period of one to five years.  

Firearms are involved in half of suicides and three-quarters of homicides in the United States.  UC Davis conducted a survey in July 2020, which assessed personal willingness to use a GVRO when a family member was at risk.  After reading a brief description of California’s GVRO law, more than 80% of the respondents said they would be somewhat or very willing to ask a judge to issue a GVRO if a family member had threatened to physically hurt them or a family member.

California issued 3,007 Gun Violence Restraining Orders from 2016 to 2020. In 2020, the state issued 1,284 restraining orders, 15-times greater than the 85 issued in 2016. 

In closing, I’d like to reiterate, “If you see or hear something, Say Something.” You can remain anonymous and shared concerns will be investigated professionally. Your action could save a life! 

Donna Lind is Scotts Valley Mayor. To reach Lind, email [email protected] or call 831-438-4187. 

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