An Alameda City Council referral calling for a town hall on the issue of gun violence was unanimously approved Tuesday night. But not before two councilmembers repeatedly questioned the scope of the event and whether its aims had already been covered at a recent public event in Alameda.
“I’m a bit stunned by the resistance,” said Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie, who along with Councilmember John Knox White, offered the town hall referral this week.
The town hall, scheduled for Oct. 14, 5:30 p.m., at a still to be determined location in Alameda, will include discussions for actions that residents can implement in the future, Oddie added, and ultimately provide the city council with a blueprint for later approving an action plan for reducing gun violence.
“Our goal out of this is to have a conversation on how we can best address this issue of gun violence because it seems like every week somebody dies because somebody has an assault weapon,” Oddie said. “If you say ‘Our thoughts are with you,” that’s not going to solve the problem. If we continue to say platitudes, that’s not going to solve the problem and people are asking for action.”
The town hall is also scheduled to include Assemblymember Rob Bonta, state Sen. Nancy Skinner, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, and other speakers.
“What I hear from everybody that I talk to is that, ‘Enough of the inaction,’ so we’re going to take action. We’d like support,” Oddie told the council Tuesday night.
But Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Councilmember Malia Vella, right, were skeptical.
Work on the issue of gun violence had already been done by a local faith-based group recently, Vella said, “What is context of the meeting? I think the issue of addressing gun violence is fairly broad.” Vella later mentioned that the work recently done on the issue was by a group of Alameda women. She suggested their efforts had been overlooked.
“A lot to unpack there. I think I was accused of ignoring the work that was done because it was done by women. I’m a little offended by that,” Oddie said.
Earlier Ashcraft offered passive resistance to the town hall proposal. She read a lengthy list of gun-related state legislation that the city had previously endorsed. The reading lasted more than three minutes. At one point, Ashcraft said among the specific activities Alameda residents can do to curb gun violence is to start a book club.
Already frustrated by the discussion, Oddie told Ashcraft, “I can tell you sitting around and reading a book and having a book club is not going to stop people” from killing others with assault weapons.
“This is a public health crisis and we need to act on it. We need to do something as a city,” he said.
One tangible move toward limiting gun violence is to ban the retail sale of firearms in the city, Councilmember Tony Daysog suggested. “Does Big 5 really have to sell weapons near the counter there when you go down to South Shore [Shopping Center]?” he said. Big 5 does not sell assault weapons, but does offer other types of recreational firearms.