Town Hall Meeting Slated for Monday

Discuss public safety in face of mass violence on Oct. 14 

The names of the places are etched in our memories forever: Dayton, El Paso, Gilroy, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Yountville, Orlando, San Bernardino, Isla Vista, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Fort Hood, Oikos, Virginia Tech, Columbine and many other locations of mass shootings in the last two decades. 

After each senseless act of gun violence, we all ask ourselves and our leaders, “What can we do to stop these tragedies?” At the same time, we fear that and wonder if mass violence is becoming normalized and if we or our family members are safe. 

Alameda City Council asks the public to join state, county and city leaders in a town hall meeting to discuss these issues from 6 to 7:30 p.m., next Monday, Oct. 14, at the Alameda Theatre and Cineplex, 2317 Central Ave.

We are all weary of vigils without results. Elected leaders are often too paralyzed to act on a controversial issue. We wait for action at the federal level that has little chance of success in a Congress largely beholden to the National Rifle Association. 

But, as the great Shirley Chisholm once said: “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” 
In that spirit, we have organized a town hall event to solicit Alameda’s ideas on what we can implement locally, here in Alameda, to keep our community safe from the scourge of gun violence.

We will build on the great work being done in our community on this critical issue. Last year, a town hall held at Christ Episcopal Church began a constructive dialog in Alameda. This year, a new group, Safe Alameda, is also forming in town to bring reasonable gun-safety measures forward. This work, and the discussion next week, will inform the City Council on a concrete set of outcomes we all can work together to implement.

  • State Assm. Rob Bonta will give an update on statewide efforts to protect Californians, as well as an overview of state preemption in this policy area. 
  • District Attorney Nancy O’Malley will discuss how we are enforcing the laws already on the books and review a report her office recently released covering six years of data on gun use, sales, possession and theft in Alameda County. 
  • Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri will update the community on his department’s efforts to address this public health crisis. We will also discuss a relatively new tool in protecting the public: the gun violence restraining order process.

We’ve also heard the call that we need to do more locally. Key to this will be to focus on outcomes as this is an emotional topic. While we intend to collaborate with the community on developing these outcomes, we are initially focusing on four areas. 

First, all Alamedans should feel and be safe from mass shootings in our community. Second, in Alameda, those who shouldn’t possess guns, people suffering personal traumas and instability, shouldn’t have them. Third, those who do own guns in Alameda should store and operate their guns safely. And last, but not least, no child should die an accidental death in Alameda due to a carelessly maintained or unsecured weapon.

From these outcomes and the community input gathered next Monday, our city staff will develop a list of policy options for the City Council and the community to discuss. We hope to see many of you at the Alameda Theater next week as we continue this important community dialog.


John Knox White serves as the vice mayor, Jim Oddie as a City Councilmember.