Supervisor's Report

Turning the tide on gun violence

On Jan. 30, 2018, I was sworn in as supervisor. Fifteen days later, a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Florida. Less than a month ago, I attended a vigil for 11 people killed while attending a Shabbat service at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. A few weeks ago, I memorialized 12 people murdered at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif. As I write this, I just received a notification on my phone that a shooter killed three people at Mercy Hospital in Chicago.


The United States has a gun homicide rate 25 times higher than other developed nations. More than 96 Americans are shot dead in this country every day, and hundreds more are injured. American women are 16 times more likely to be killed with a gun than other women in high-income countries, and women are the vast majority of mass shooting victims, which more often than not involves domestic violence. Our children are hiding in closets in school lockdown drills preparing for the next mass shooter, and after the high school mass shooting in Parkland, they are marching through the streets holding signs that say “Am I next?”

I recently met one of the students from Parkland who helped start the March for Our Lives movement. When describing the emotions he went through while trying to hide in his classroom from the shooter, he said he felt terror, anger, panic — everything one would expect — but he stated the worst feeling that came over him was he understood what was happening. He understood he was part of yet another school shooting — that Columbine wasn’t an anomaly and that not enough has been done to prevent it from happening again. This is now common in America. No one is surprised. The effects of gun violence extend far beyond a numbers game — gun violence is shaping the lives of millions of Americans who witness it, know someone who has been shot, or live in fear of the next shooting.


On Nov. 7, 2018, Tel Orfanos was one of the 96 Americans killed by gun violence. He was killed in the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting just a year after surviving the Las Vegas shooting, where 58 people were gunned down at a concert. After the Borderline shooting, his mother Susan said, “My son was in Las Vegas with a lot of his friends and he came home. He didn’t come home last night, and I don’t want prayers. I don’t want thoughts. I want gun control, and I hope to God nobody else sends me any more prayers.”

After 20 years in the gun violence prevention movement, I take solace knowing there are now millions of people doing much more than just offering thoughts and prayers. Dec. 14, 2018 marks the six-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy, where 20 first graders and six educators were shot in their elementary school. That event shattered the hearts of millions, reigniting the gun violence prevention movement and prompting millions across America to join the fight to end gun violence. When Congress at the time would not even pass a bill requiring universal background checks on all gun sales (when 95 percent of Americans agree with universal background checks), the roadmap was set for advocates, and people across this country started successfully pushing for common-sense gun law reforms at the local, state, and national level. The hard work is paying off, and in this last election cycle gun safety advocates helped gain control of the House and elect new gun-sense champions to statehouses across the country. Leader Nancy Pelosi has affirmed that common-sense gun law reform will be a priority for the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.


In California, we have one of these reforms called Gun Violence Restraining Orders; these restraining orders allow law enforcement and close family members to petition the court to take guns away from individuals who pose a significant danger to themselves or others. Unfortunately, this tool has been vastly underutilized in San Francisco, although our state legislature passed this law in 2014. I am currently working with our law enforcement officials and gun violence prevention advocates to ensure San Francisco has a process in place to effectively enforce these restraining orders and to educate the public about the process in an effort to save lives.

There is no single solution that will end this epidemic and as long as it continues, I will continue to push for policies that protect our communities. Earlier this year I passed a concealed carry ban at First Amendment events in San Francisco, and I am currently working on legislation to protect San Franciscans against the threat of 3-D printed weapons.

Gun violence touches every town and city in America. We deserve to live in a society where we do not fear dropping our children off at school, going to a concert or the movies, attending a service at our place of worship, or just going about our daily lives. Together, millions of us are fighting for the changes we know will save lives.


Every year since the Sandy Hook tragedy, vigils have been held across the country to shine a light on the devastating epidemic of gun violence and to mourn the lives of those we have lost. Since Sandy Hook, more than 600,000 Americans were killed or injured by guns. This year, there will be a vigil on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 2 p.m. at St. Ignatius Church. All are welcome, and all communities and gun violence prevention groups can come together to not only grieve but to provide hope that together we will make a difference.

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