SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Nearly four months after the mass shooting at a VTA rail yard in San Jose took the lives of nine employees — advocates and city leadership are proposing a multifaceted approach to reduce firearm violence throughout the city.
San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez hosted a press conference outside City Hall Tuesday along with supporters to discuss his memo that aims to reduce gun violence through preventative mental health and sociological measures.
“While it is our duty as civic leaders to take measures to reduce or even eliminate gun-related deaths and injuries, when we address gun violence in our community, suicide prevention, intimate partner violence, substance abuse and mental health support all need to be an integral part of the conversation,” said Peralez.
“According to the CDC, in the United States, while mass shootings like the one at the VTA and at the Gilroy Garlic Festival just two years ago do get high profile attention, they account for less than 1% of firearm-related deaths.”
Recently, the city has moved to strengthen its gun violence prevention measures, including requiring that guns be stored in lockboxes when not in use to mandating that gun owners have gun liability insurance.
Advocates say despite this progress, they are still continuing to push for more gun violence preventative measures to ensure any individual does not get to a point of causing harm to others or themselves with a firearm.
“We do not have to accept this level of violence as the new normal. We need to push for improving violence prevention infrastructure, community safety plans, and crisis support for victims’ families,” said Gloria Rudometkin, wife of Michael Rudometkin who was killed in the VTA shooting.
“Councilmember Peralez’s three-pronged approach addressing the wellness and safety of our community in hopes of reducing violence is a step in the right direction for future change.”
The memorandum proposes a three-pronged approach:
- Self-examining the City’s workplace safety and culture implementing any necessary changes, including increasing knowledge and access to wellness programs and mental health services.
- Actively take part in the conversations in developing a countywide Trauma Recovery Center in the event that another traumatic community event occurs.
- Evaluate the City’s firearm regulatory policies and programs and commence a conversation around how addressing various social and psychological factors could play a larger role in firearm violence prevention.
Among the supporters was John Courtney, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 265, who was with Rudometkin the day of the VTA shooting.
“To echo what Raul said regarding gun violence and gun ownership, it’s not about that, no matter what side of that argument you stand on, I think we can all agree that the mental health aspect has to be dealt with,” said Courtney.
“When I looked into the killer’s eyes I didn’t see the second amendment, I didn’t see any argument other than a mental health issue and evil.”
The proposal will be heard during the Joint Meeting for the Rules and Open Government Committee on Wednesday, September 22 at 2:00 p.m. via Zoom.