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Marin to Host Gun Buy-Back Event June 4

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there was an historic increase in gun deaths in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gun-related homicides have risen by 35% since 2019, the CDC reported on May 10. More than 45,000 Americans died from guns in 2020 and more than half of those were suicides.

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Part of a collection of guns turned in at a previous buy-back event.
Part of a collection of guns turned in at a previous buy-back event.

DA’s Office, law enforcement, other stakeholders have eye on public safety

Courtesy of Marin County

Marin County’s effort to enhance safety in the community includes the goal of collecting and disposing of unwanted and unneeded firearms. On June 4, the Marin County District Attorney’s Office, the City of San Rafael, and local law enforcement agencies are conducting a gun buy-back event at the sheriff’s headquarters in San Rafael.

The collaborating agencies are working to help reduce gun violence, the risk of accidental discharges, domestic violence, suicide, and gun theft by encouraging people to voluntarily turn in or sell guns they no longer want in their homes. All guns collected will be destroyed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there was an historic increase in gun deaths in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gun-related homicides have risen by 35% since 2019, the CDC reported on May 10. More than 45,000 Americans died from guns in 2020 and more than half of those were suicides.

District Attorney Lori E. Frugoli noted that firearms are not only used impulsively for self-harm but can be used against gun owners in their own homes. About 25% of guns used in crimes are stolen, which is one of the reasons why free gun locks will be available at the San Rafael buy-back event. Also, the presence of firearms in a household can only increase the danger of domestic violence, especially against women. A woman is five times more likely to be killed at the hands of her batterer if there is a firearm in the household.

According to the California Department of Justice, 2,500 firearms were sold in Marin between 2019 and 2020. Between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2021, 719 firearms were sold in Marin.

“Law enforcement statistics show that Marin is a safe place to live, and we want to keep it that way,” Frugoli said. “The gun buy-back program is an opportunity for those who wish to dispose of their firearms to ensure the weapons are out of our community. It is also a time to have a conversation with family and friends about gun safety and reflect upon whether they want guns in their homes and, if so, how to store them safely.”

The event will take place in the parking lot of the sheriff’s office at 1600 Los Gamos Drive in northern San Rafael, just off the Lucas Valley Road / Smith Ranch Road exit on Highway 101. The buy-back station will be behind the main building, or on its east side, closest to 101. Signage will be in placed along Los Gamos Drive on the day of the event.

From 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., organizers will offer $100 for functional handguns, rifles, and shotguns, and $200 for semi-automatic weapons. No questions will be asked and showing identification will not be necessary. The drive-up event is limited to three operable firearms per person. All weapons must be brought to the buy-back event in vehicle trunks. Boxed ammunition will be accepted as well.

Sean Stephens, Marin County Veterans Services Officer, said families of military veterans often don’t know what to do with firearms when a veteran dies.

“Often, gun buy-backs are painted as an effort to take guns away from people, when in reality they are a means to protect the guns from getting into the wrong hands,” he said. “This is especially important information when it comes to gun owners passing away. Gun buy-backs provide a safe, effective way to dispose of unwanted weapons.”

There are an estimated 100,000 firearms stored in Marin, raising concerns about the safety of law-abiding gun owners and their families. Not enough of the weapons and ammunition are locked up, leaving them vulnerable to the hands of young kids, people in emotional distress, or those intent on violence against others. All guns should be locked up with only an adult having access to the key or electronic access code, and ammunition should be locked up separately.

Call (415) 485-3070 with questions about the buy-back event or about obtaining gun locks.

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Activism

Respect for Marriage Act Passes in U.S. House with Help from Bay Area Representatives

California District 13 Rep. Barbara Lee, who voted for the bill, also stated it was “a key step forward in House Democrats’ fight against the right-wing assault on freedom.”  Representative Eric Swalwell of District 15, which includes cities of Dublin, San Ramon, Livermore and Hayward simply tweeted, “Kevin McCarthy and the majority of @HouseGop just voted against same-sex marriage. As backwards as they are, we are not going backwards with them.”

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Tweet from U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington. Twitter photo.
Tweet from U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington. Twitter photo.

By Sarah Clemens, Oakland Post Intern

The House passed the Respect for Marriage Act on July 19, 2022. The bill, which was originally introduced in 2009, would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and recognize same-sex marriage on a federal level.

The reintroduction of this bill comes not long after Justice Clarence Thomas’ called for Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 landmark Supreme Court ruling that declared the right for same-sex marriage in every state, to be overturned. Thomas declared Obergefell v. Hodges, along with other landmark rulings, to be “demonstrably erroneous decisions.”

While all of the House Democrats voted for the bill, it also garnered some bipartisan support, with 47 Republicans voting in the affirmative as well. Notably, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, whose anti-gay marriage statements were immortalized in 2018 Best Picture nominee “Vice,” voted in favor of the bill.

Cheney also denounced her previous statements in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, stating, “freedom means freedom for everybody.” However, the Republican Party’s top two representatives, Kevin McCarthy of California and Steve Scalise of Louisiana, voted against it.

While the House vote is a big victory for supporters of the Respect for Marriage Act, it is still not a law. Whether it will be approved by the Senate is unclear. Chuck Schumer of New York, Democrat and Senate majority leader, stated he wanted “to bring this bill to the floor, and we’re working to get the necessary Senate Republican support to ensure it would pass.” That mentioned Republican support would be a minimum of 10 affirmative Republican votes.

Democrat support remains strong, with many citing potential codifying of the bill as a counterattack in the wake of the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whose congressional district lies within San Francisco, spoke about the recent ruling on the House floor and stood behind the bill, saying, “as radical Justices and right-wing politicians continue their assault on our basic rights, Democrats believe that the government has no place between you and the person you love.”

California District 13 Rep. Barbara Lee, who voted for the bill, also stated it was “a key step forward in House Democrats’ fight against the right-wing assault on freedom.”  Representative Eric Swalwell of District 15, which includes cities of Dublin, San Ramon, Livermore and Hayward simply tweeted, “Kevin McCarthy and the majority of @HouseGop just voted against same-sex marriage. As backwards as they are, we are not going backwards with them.”

While according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, President Joe Biden has been urging the Senate to send the bill to him soon, the process has instead been delayed.

Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who became the first openly gay person to be elected to the Senate in 2012, told NPR that “we don’t want to bring it to the floor until we know that we can pass the legislation.”

Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, has stated that he’d “delay announcing anything on that issue until we see what the majority leader wants to put on the floor.”

As Democrats attempt to gain support from across the aisle, and Republicans make few statements on the bill publicly, the future remains unclear.

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Activism

William Wells Brown, Personifying the American Dream

William Wells Brown personified the American dream. He’d become an internationally renowned antislavery activist and writer who resided in and traveled widely across the northern United States and the British Isles. He penned a series of remarkable books including the first Black novel, the first printed Black play, the first Black travelogue, and the first Black panorama displayed in Britain.

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William Wells Brown. Wikipedia.org photo.
William Wells Brown. Wikipedia.org photo.

By Tamara Shiloh

The minstrel shows of the early 19th century are believed by some to be the roots of Black theatre. However, they were written, acted, and performed by whites for white audiences. The first known play by a Black American was James Brown’s “King Shotaway” (1823), but the first Black play published was William Wells Brown’s (ca. 1814–1884) “The Escape; or, A Leap for Freedom.”

While “Escape” was published in 1858, it was not officially produced until 1971 at Emerson College. It was one of the earliest extant pieces of African American dramatic literature.

Brown, whose mother was a slave, was born on a plantation outside Lexington, Ky. He would become a Black antislavery lecturer, a groundbreaking novelist, playwright, and historian.

According to the New Bedford Historical Society (NBHS), he is “widely considered to have been the first African American to publish works in several major literary genres, and widely acclaimed for the effectiveness of many of his writings.”

Bought and sold several times before age 20, Brown spent his childhood and much of his young adult life as a slave in St. Louis, Mo. There he was hired out to work on the Missouri River which, at that time, served as a major thoroughfare for the slave trade. This location allowed him several chances to escape. It was New Year’s Day in 1834 that he slipped away from a steamboat and finally became successful.

Brown landed in Cleveland, Ohio, where he began educating himself and reading antislavery newspapers. He later worked as a steam boatsman on Lake Erie and conductor for the Underground Railroad. On arrival at Cleveland, he’d taken shelter with Mr. and Mrs. Wells Brown, a white Quaker family and later adopted their names.

By 1843, Brown had become a regular on the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society lecturing circuit. He was also deeply committed to speaking out on women’s rights and temperance laws (laws banning the sale of spirits in less than 15-gallon quantities). It was Brown’s speaking that led many historians and scholars to provide the trajectory for his later career as a writer. By 1845, he’d published “Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Written by Himself.”

Brown personified the American dream. He’d become an internationally renowned antislavery activist and writer who resided in and traveled widely across the northern United States and the British Isles. He penned a series of remarkable books including the first Black novel, the first printed Black play, the first Black travelogue, and the first Black panorama displayed in Britain.

Focusing on his own historical works, Brown penned two histories of the Black race, a history on Blacks and whites in the South, and a rare military history of Blacks in the Civil War. He eventually settled in Boston, where he practiced medicine until his death from cancer in 1884.

Learn more about Brown’s compelling story through his classic American slave narrative: “The Narrative of William W. Brown a Fugitive Slave.”

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Activism

COMMENTARY: The Power of the Vote

Voting has not always been a given, in fact, just the opposite has been the practice in society for the marginalized. In the midst of so much media coverage that shows how some national lawmakers want to suppress the voting strengths of Blacks, Latinos and the formerly incarcerated, we must seize this moment to exercise our citizen right to vote.

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We as a people constantly need to work in unison to erect positivity that increases the day-to-day living challenges for the betterment of all; not just for a few.
We as a people constantly need to work in unison to erect positivity that increases the day-to-day living challenges for the betterment of all; not just for a few.

By Richard Johnson

The Formally Incarcerated Giving Back (FIGB) org. is launching a voter drive to protect and encourage democratic participation while seeking educational, economic as well as social opportunities to reunite families.

Our goal is to focus on potential voters who have been overlooked in the voting process as a class due to ultra-restrictive policy measures meant to discourage voter turnout.

Recently laws that allow those with criminal records to actively participate in the voting process on all levels have changed. This would give those underserved citizens a voice in what happens in their communities.

Voting has not always been a given, in fact, just the opposite has been the practice in society for the marginalized. In the midst of so much media coverage that shows how some national lawmakers want to suppress the voting strengths of Blacks, Latinos and the formerly incarcerated, we must seize this moment to exercise our citizen right to vote.

We can help ourselves and make changes by voting with our full strength.

We of the Formally Incarcerated Giving Back (FIGB) will be canvassing throughout our communities to register this obscure neglected class of prison returnees and their families. We will also join with other organizations, churches and the Post News Group, along with other media to spread the message of our mission. FIGB will also help contact and sign all other unregistered voters to impact change at the polls. We will collaborate with other groups, voting blocks, and entities to increase awareness while raising the turnout at the polls. We are asking all churches, institutions, and social clubs to join this endeavor by engaging with FIGB.

During the next two months we will regularly publish the results of our coordinated efforts to put boots on the ground in this column.

Change is an inevitable phenomenon; however, the right changes are not. We as a people constantly need to work in unison to erect positivity that increases the day-to-day living challenges for the betterment of all; not just for a few. Let’s be clear, nothing should be taken for granted. Just as one is seated, so can one be unseated. Let the voices of the underserved be heard loud and clear. The policy of exclusion must be replaced with inclusion.

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