One shot, strike out
Santa Clara County expands measures against gun violence
April 19, 2023
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is expanding its ‘gun violence strike team’ following the recent mass shootings in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park, focusing on confiscating guns from people with an existing court order or that present a potential threat.
The five-person strike team’s mission is to “take guns from people, who frankly, shouldn’t have them,” said Cindy Chavez, member of the Board of Supervisors.
The Board is set to approve almost a million dollars for new local positions, bringing the unit size to 23 people, according to Chavez .
Although this plan has been voted on by the Santa Clara County Board, the enforcement of these actions rely on the Santa Clara County’s judge’s approval. Temporary removal orders are easier to get during critical circumstances before a full hearing can occur.
After the 2019 Gilroy Garlic shooting when the gunman legally obtained but illegally transported his gun to California, politicians have been working on a solution to make it harder for these instances to occur again.
“We’ve seen both the rise in privately-made guns and the rise of illegally-trafficked guns into our state,” James Gibbons-Shapiro, the assistant district attorney for Santa Clara County, said.
Along with illegally trafficked guns, the proliferation of privately made firearms made in home factories, known as ghost guns, has increased in California, Gibbons-Shapiro said.
“It’s not very difficult to do because you buy a kit, which has the gun 80% made, and you’re just putting together the last few parts and you’ve now got a functioning assault weapon that’s illegal to purchase in California,” Gibbons-Shapiro said.
After the 2019 Gilroy Garlic shooting when the gunman legally obtained but illegally transported his gun to California, politicians have been working on a solution to make it harder for these instances to occur again. ”
These makeshift guns are nearly untraceable, but the strike team plans to make ghost guns a priority. Gibbons-Shaprio said they need to attack this problem from the base and prosecute the people manufacturing the makeshift guns.
“We have to dramatically reduce the number of firearms that are in our community, and then we’re coupling that with investigative strikes to break up these dealers that are providing ghost guns,” Chavez said.
A large aspect of the expansion is that the funding will not be taken out of any other department and only existing laws will be applied. This strike team isn’t implementing anything new, but simply imposing it, according to Gibbons-Shapiro.
“We can’t predict where every incident is going to be and that’s one of the reasons that I’m so focused on using the laws and resources that we have, removing as many guns as quickly as possible and as safely as possible,” Chavez said. “We are using grants and the $900,000 the county put in to be able to support local agencies with overtime to pay officers to retrieve firearms.”
With the recent shootings in California, Gibbons-Shapiro said that this is exactly the right time for the strike team to expand.
“California has some of the strongest gun laws in the country, and they’re only meaningful if we do the things to enforce them,” Gibbons-Shapiro said.