Saturday, February 24, 2024

Q & A on School Safety and Guns with Amy Moreno (Coronado Ladies for Change) and Richard Bailey (Mayor and Board Member of SDCGO PAC)

Amy Moreno (founding member of Coronado Ladies for Change) and Richard Bailey (Mayor of Coronado and Board Member of San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee) Discuss Their Respective Groups, School Safety and Guns

Whether you have a student in local Coronado schools or not, the issue of school safety (related to guns) continues to dominate both national and local conversation. Just last week, the Coronado Unified School District held a community meeting to discuss this very issue in the wake of the Valentine’s Day massacre that killed 17 people in Florida.

The Coronado Times interviewed two community leaders in order to get multiple perspectives and help answer questions specific to school safety and guns. Further, the article allowed both interviewees the opportunity to share more about their respective groups. The Coronado Times strives for unbiased reporting and is therefore publishing the answers of both interviews in their entirety, without edits and in the same article.

Readers are encouraged to read the article in its entirety and learn more by visiting the links provided in the interviews to help form their own opinion or seek out more information. This is a developing series and more local leaders will be interviewed on topics related to school safety and guns.

The Coronado Times interviewed both Amy Moreno (founding member of Coronado Ladies for Change) and Richard Bailey (Mayor of Coronado and Board Member of San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee):

Amy Moreno, Founding Member of Coronado Ladies for Change

Interview with Amy Moreno, Coronado Ladies for Change

1. What is the purpose of the Coronado Ladies for Change group on Facebook?
To clarify, Coronado Ladies for Change is an informal, grassroots group of local women who have come together to start the dialogue around what we, as a community, can do to ensure our children and teachers are safe when they go to school each day. The tragedy in Parkland has motivated us to want to be part of the collective discussion and potential solutions for our town.

2. Why did you decide to start this group and help lead the Coronado Ladies for Change?
My mother taught in the Coronado Unified School District for almost thirty years and I have close friends that currently teach here. I am also raising three daughters that attend preschool and elementary school here. I am a founding member of this group due to my personal connection to the community and our schools.

3. Has your group received any funding from organizations that focus on gun safety? If so, can you share how much funding or the impact that funding will make in the position your group supports?
Again, our group’s interest is not in becoming a formal non-profit organization or an extension of an already existing one. We are not looking for funding from anyone. Our focus is on keeping all Coronado schools safe. We do, however, think sensible gun control laws are relevant in this dialogue.

4. What position does your group support regarding the Second Amendment? Are there any restrictions your group supports related to the Second Amendment? While the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) changed the definition of the Second Amendment to protect an individual’s right to possess a firearm, even if unconnected with service in a militia, and as long as done for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home, the case also clearly states that the right to bear arms is not unlimited and that guns and gun ownership would continue to be regulated. In the decision, the court emphasized that, like most rights, the right to bear arms is not unlimited and that the sort of weapons protected should be “in common use at the time” and that carrying dangerous and unusual weapons should continue to be prohibited.

Therefore, we support the ban of guns in sensitive places, such as schools (more guns is not the solution), we support strict restrictions on the sale and possession of semi-automatic rifles such as the AR-15 (because we consider it extremely dangerous and not in common use in our society), we support a ban on large capacity magazines, and we definitely support a ban on any accessory that would turn a semi-automatic weapon into automatic (making them extremely dangerous and unusual in a civilized society).

We also support raising the legal age to 21 for the purchase of any guns regardless of where the gun was purchased (private, unlicensed seller etc.) and we see the need to have more comprehensive background checks and make them a requirement for all buyers including those that buy guns online and at gun shows. Lastly, we are not proponents of concealed carry reciprocity which would force California to recognize the concealed carry standards from every other state, even those that have dramatically weaker standards.

5. As a leader of the Coronado Ladies for Change, please weigh in on the following ideas to improve school safety:

– What do you think about arming teachers at Coronado schools?
No, no, no! Teachers have enough on their plates as it is. They already face overcrowded classrooms, budget restraints, and sometimes challenging students (and parents for that matter). Even so, they come to work every day with the simple goal of educating their students and inspiring them to be better people in this world. Can you imagine if we now required them to be expert shooters? Would tenure be revoked based on their shooting ability or lack there of? Would they be able to carry the emotional weight if there was a mishap with their gun during a normal school day? I can’t even begin to imagine all the different scenarios that could play out if this was to happen.

– What are your thoughts about ‘lockdown drills’ at Coronado schools? What role does counseling play in these drills if anything at all?
Our group doesn’t have visibility to the safety plans of the schools in the Coronado Unified School District nor the other preschools and private schools in town. We would need to see more detail before commenting on the current protocols in each school.

– During a ‘lockdown drill’ do you think students should have an active role of helping secure classrooms or areas within the school campus?
We have not heard about this but do not believe that our children need to bear the responsibility of their own safety.

– Should there be gun reform to help make schools safer? Why?
Modifying our current gun laws would be a move in the right direction, but we also need to ensure that the schools have established district-wide threat assessment policies and an assessment team. All threats of violence (both online and in person) must be taken seriously and investigated.

6. How do you balance the rights of a gun owner with your group’s desire for increased safety in schools?
As previously mentioned, the Supreme Court has already ruled that the right to own and bear arms is not unlimited. We don’t let people own rocket launchers, missiles or nuclear weapons because we know that it would be a terrible idea. The continuous occurrence of mass shootings in our country demonstrates that we need to rethink our stance on current gun laws. In asking how we ‘balance safety for human beings against the liberty of the gun owner,’ the scale must tip towards saving the lives of our children and teachers.

7. Coronado’s Mayor Richard Bailey is on the board of the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee (SDCGO PAC). What are your thoughts?
While I respect the mayor’s passion for his beliefs, I feel that teens shooting AR-15s should not be glamorized. The YouTube video posted by the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC called “17 year old shoots AR15” is inappropriate.

8. Coronado students are planning to participate in walking out of school for 17 minutes on March 14th. What are your thoughts about local students participating in this national event?
Our students are our future and their voices need to be heard. Many feel strongly about what needs to be done to secure their safety and although they might not be old enough yet to vote, they want to be active participants in this national discussion.

Richard Bailey, Coronado Mayor and Board Member of SDCGO PAC.

Interview with Richard Bailey, Mayor of Coronado and Board Member of the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee:

1. Why did you decide to become a board member of the San Diego County Gun Owners Political Action Committee (SDCGO PAC)? Describe your involvement in the organization.
Well, I first learned about the organization around 2014. At that time, it wasn’t much more than a loose-knit group of business professionals that happened to be gun owners and enjoyed shooting recreationally. One of those individuals was a woman from north county that was attempting to open an indoor shooting range in the city she lived. The property she had acquired was properly zoned for that type of commercial activity, but she was being denied the necessary permits. It didn’t seem fair to me that the law wasn’t being applied equally to her. So a handful of us got together and wrote letters to the city that was denying her this use and convinced them to apply the law equally.

Personally, I’ve never owned a gun and I’ve only ever been to a shooting range two or three times. But seeing someone be treated unfairly simply because an administrative governmental department didn’t agree with their proposed activity, really struck a nerve with me. So I began to educate myself about guns, the various applicable laws, and the types of people that own guns.

What I discovered was that the vast majority of everyone I met through this loose-knit group of people were just like anyone else you might meet. They were doctors, lawyers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, realtors, business owners, etc. Several of them just enjoyed shooting recreationally, but many of them chose to have a gun for protection at home. Some had personally been victims of crimes which prompted them to purchase a gun and learn how to use one for self-defense.

I have been a board member since the group first formed around 2014. In this role, I provide general input towards educational, outreach, and political activities of the group. One of the activities I admire most about the group is that they put on free self-defense clinics to people that are more likely to be victims of crime, including: the LGBT community, minority communities, various professional organizations such as real estate agents and more. They also meet with any elected officials to provide basic information about the different types of guns, magazines, ammunitions and laws so that politicians can make a more informed opinion.

2. According to the SDCGO website “About Us” page:
San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO) is a political organization that focuses on Second Amendment rights within San Diego County. SDCGO was formed because there is an aggressive and successful effort to significantly limit or eliminate the ownership and use of firearms and the firearms industry in California at the municipal, county, and state level through legislation and regulation. SDCGO’s solution is a local volunteer group that does four things all intended to get the right people elected on local San Diego councils and boards:
– Second Amendment Advocacy at the city/county level
– Second Amendment Community Organizing
– Political Fundraising
– Working with the local gun industry on the first 3

3. How much money did the SDCGO directly or indirectly provide to assist in your election?

4. Does the SDCGO or you support any restrictions to current gun ownership (without overturning the second amendment)?  For example, there has been much debate over banning automatic rifles because of the recent mass killings using the AR-15.  Why or why not? 
Yes, of course. Automatic weapons are already highly regulated and nearly impossible to become licensed to own. Basically, I support all laws that protect the rights of sane and law-abiding gun owners, but I also support laws that restrict people who are mentally incapable or threatening others, from possessing any firearm. I also support laws that restrict criminals from possessing firearms or using firearms during the commission of a crime.

5. Regarding people that are a deemed a danger to society, what measures do you support to ensure guns are kept out of their possession?
First, it is worth noting, that only 3-10% of all gun-involved crimes were perpetrated by criminals that purchased their firearm legally – this is according to Phillip Cook, a professor of economics at Duke University who has done some of the most recent and extensive research on where criminals get their guns. This does not mean we, as a society, should not create deterrents to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, it just means we have to understand that people who are willing to commit criminal acts are not likely to subject themselves to the same legal processes that the average law-abiding citizen will.

This being said, I do support complete background checks, closing the “gun show loophole” for purchases, extended waiting periods, and Gun Restraining Orders (GROs).

Of these measures, I believe extended waiting periods and GROs can make the biggest difference in reducing gun-related crimes for legally purchased guns. According to Professor Cook, most of the legally purchased guns used in gun-related crimes are crimes of passion and domestic violence. The purpose of extended waiting period is to allow a “cooling off” period in the event someone was in an emotionally volatile state. The purpose of GROs, is to restrict someone’s access to guns if they appear to be a danger to themselves or others and allow due process to determine whether guns should be returned to that individual.

6. As a board member of the SDCGO PAC, please weigh in on the following ideas to improve school safety:
I was heartbroken when I heard about all of the opportunities there were to stop the troubled, disturbed murderer in Florida before he arrived at school and it was shocking to see the school deputy refuse to enter the building to protect the students.

– One idea is to arm teachers. What do you think about that for Coronado schools?
I think it is important to note that the City Council has zero say in the matter as to whether teachers should be armed. In my opinion, teachers already have enough responsibilities to educate, supervise, and inspire our students; so, personally, I would never advocate for teachers to be forced to take on that role as an additional responsibility.

– What are your thoughts on the current drills and infrastructure in local schools? Can the City help fund retrofitting schools to make them safer?
The School District and Coronado Police Department agencies have a great relationship and routinely coordinate efforts to ensure students are safe. I cannot speak for the School District, however, at a recent school forum on safety, the District did mention that they are reevaluating their emergency plans for these types of situations and the city will assist with these efforts as needed.

The City of Coronado is prohibited from using public funds for another public agency, including CUSD.

– Does your group work with schools to improve safety in any capacity? Should they?
The organization believes the agencies best suited for attending to the safety of the schools are local law enforcement departments and the school district. If SDCGO can be of assistance in any way, we would welcome those discussions.

7. Any thoughts on the new Facebook group, Coronado Ladies for Change?
I am not too familiar with the group, but I have met with a few of their members. I did offer to join the group, as I personally have the same stated objective, however, they refused to let me join.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the political climate these days is that everything becomes so politicized to the point we struggle to engage in meaningful, if any, dialogue at all. If we cannot even talk with someone we have a perceived difference of opinion with, how are hearts and minds ever going to change?

8. Coronado students are planning to participate in walking out of school for 17 minutes on March 14th. What are your thoughts about local students participating in this national event?
I think we’re all searching for ways to make a difference and it appears the Coronado Unified School District will accommodate the students planning to raise awareness by participating in the walkout. The students are, in my opinion, in the best position to make a difference and prevent the next tragedy. And what I mean by that is, we all knew who the kids were at school who were a bit different, who were the loners, who didn’t have any friends. The most effective way to prevent the next tragedy is for all of us, parents, students, teachers, community leaders, to come together and befriend one another so no one feels different or like a loner or like they don’t have any friends. We need to foster a welcoming, friendly and inclusive community throughout Coronado and this effort begins with each one of us individually making a concerted effort to make a difference.

We cannot forget that there is only one person responsible for the horrific shooting in Florida, the shooter. No one points to the ACLU, as a defender of the First Amendment, and attacks them for continuing to support the First Amendment even after someone abuses that right to engage in online bullying or harassment. No one believes online bullying is acceptable just like no one believes gun-violence is acceptable. However, I know that many, honest, law-abiding, gun-owners of all different backgrounds, are feeling personally attacked and scapegoated because of the reaction by many nationally and even here locally. We must be better than charging to our respective political corners and refusing to engage with one another, otherwise nothing will ever change.

We also must focus on what is effective and not just symbolic. This starts by actually understanding the issue and statistics so we can then engaged in meaningful dialogue about what measures would actually be effective. Otherwise, we will find ourselves having this same conversation again in the future.

Related Articles from The Coronado Times:

Coronado Unified Holds Community Forum on Student Safety (3/6/18)
CUSD Board Approves Comprehensive Safety Plans (3/5/18)
Teachers, Guns and the Law (3/1/18)
CUSD Advises Staff Regarding Planned Peaceful Demonstration (2/26/18)
Lockdown Drill at Coronado High School (2/26/18)
Grass Roots Effort to Impact Gun Safety in Coronado Schools (2/23/18)

Related National & International Articles:

DOJ announces actions to improve school safety, enforce gun laws 3/12/18 Fox News
Florida Gun Control Bill Passed by House, Defying N.R.A. 3/7/18 New York Times
There Is No ‘Epidemic of Mass School Shootings’ 3/1/18 New York Magazine
With AR-15s, Mass Shooters Attack With the Rifle Firepower Typically Used by Infantry Troops 2/28/18 New York Times
America’s Gun Culture in 10 Charts 2/15/18 2/15/18 BBC
What We Know About Mass Shootings 2/14/18 Politifact
Gun Deaths in America 7/13/16 FiveThirtyEight

Coronado Times Staff
Coronado Times Staff
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