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Posted on 04.06.2014 7:46 p.m.

Coalition Against Gun Violence Seeks Funding for Gun Buyback Program

Source: Toni Wellen for the Coalition Against Gun Violence

The Coalition Against Gun Violence’s agenda for action is to educate the entire community — children, youth and adults alike — about gun violence as public health menace to each of us and requires everyone to take a stand.

Our annual luncheon is our primary fundraising effort.  This year we are celebrating 19 years as the only gun violence prevention organization on the Central Coast. This sold-out event, held on April 6 at the Santa Barbara Club, will feature Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara; state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara; Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara County Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf; Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider; Santa Barbara City Council members Gregg Hart and Cathy Murillo; and more than 100 supporters.

This year, we are embarking on a new project — a first-ever Gun Buyback in Santa Barbara and the Central Coast — on Saturday, June 14, the day before Father’s Day. This will require CAGV fundraising on a whole new level. We will need the help and support of the Santa Barbara community to make the Gun Buyback happen. It cannot happen without you!

We are reaching out in multiple ways to the community — to organizations and grant providers, and especially to individuals. Any amount is valued. Ten people giving $10 will buy back one gun; four people giving $25 equals one more gun removed from the community; eight people giving $25 removes an assault weapon; and so on. Think of creative ways to involve the community in this valuable effort; ask your church to donate part of one week’s collection; host a wine and cheese event with your friends; hold a bake sale; those are just a few ideas. If each of us makes a small donation, together, that will add up to a lot!

A Gun Buyback does more than take guns out of the community, guns that could result in suicides, homicides or tragic accidents — when a child finds that gun — it is an opportunity for all of us to work together with our police department, as organizations and as individuals to assure that one less gun equals one less tragic and needless death.

CAGV needs more than funds — we need people to join our organization and keep the work of gun violence prevention going. This is a long-distance run, not a sprint. And after nearly 20 years, CAGV has seen a lot of progress.

I know many of you might be thinking about the power of the National Rifle Association and everyone spouting the Second Amendment. However, start listening and pay attention: gun violence is now being reported on more frequently in the national news. The pundits, the comics and the commentators are increasingly talking about gun violence in America.

Currently the NRA is hard at work trying to prevent the confirmation of Dr. Vivek H. Murthy as surgeon general because he spoke out about gun violence as a public health issue. This reminds all of us about the intense lobbying campaign that resulted in the adoption of the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1966. Fearing similar regulations, the NRA lobbied hard for no regulation, and they were successful. In 2005 when George W. Bush was president, the NRA helped push through the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which eliminated consumer protections, making the gun industry the only U.S. manufacturer with total immunity for its product.

We are not discouraged because we must stand together with the Sandy Hook parents and Newtown Action Alliance; with former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., and Americans for Responsible Solutions; in addition to the Brady Campaign, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and multiple organizations across the nation that have sprung up since the Sandy Hook tragedy and the Trayvon Martin injustice.

We must keep this important effort a top priority. Please consider giving your energy and time to one of the most serious public health issues in America by becoming a volunteer activist with CAGV right here in your own community. You can become a member for only $25 per year. Please join with CAGV; take a stand against gun violence in our community and help us keep Santa Barbara a safe place to live.

Click here for more information on the Coalition Against Gun Violence, or call 805.564.6803.

— Toni Wellen is chairwoman of the Coalition Against Gun Violence.

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