Saturday, November 28 , 2015, 9:05 am | Fair 43º

Coalition Against Gun Violence Hears Talk on ‘The Constitutional Case for Gun Control’

Lawrence Rosenthal addresses whether the right to self-defense extends beyond the home as well as states' role in deciding who can carry a loaded concealed gun

Keynote speaker Lawrenece Rosenthal and Coalition Against Gun Violence chair Toni Wellen at the group’s 19th annual program.
Keynote speaker Lawrenece Rosenthal and Coalition Against Gun Violence chair Toni Wellen at the group’s 19th annual program.  (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk photo)

By Rochelle Rose, Noozhawk Contributing Writer | @NoozhawkSociety |

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

The Coalition Against Gun Violence presented its 19th annual program with a Sunday afternoon luncheon gathering, silent auction and informative talk by keynote speaker Lawrence Rosenthal, JD.

The Santa Barbara Club on Chapala Street proved to be just large enough to host the sold-out event, which was organized by CAGV Steering Committee chair Toni Wellen and events coordinator Chris Silverstein, along with an energetic group of volunteer committee members.

Featured speaker Rosenthal spoke on “The Constitutional Case for Gun Control” and addressed whether the right to self-defense extends beyond the home and whether it prohibits states from having any say over who is allowed to carry a loaded concealed gun.

Professor Rosenthal is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he won the Fay Diploma and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Professor Rosenthal clerked for Judge Prentice Marshall of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court. He joined the faculty of Chapman University School of Law in Orange, Calif., where he teaches, among other legal courses, "Constitutional Argument" and "First Amendment Law." He also continues to engage in litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court and other appellate courts, usually on a pro bono basis.

Rosenthal recently collaborated on the study “The Scope of Regulatory Authority Under the Second Amendment” and contributed to the book Reducing Gun Violence In America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis, which analyzes the efficacy of firearms regulation and the emerging jurisprudential framework for assessing the validity of firearms regulation.

“This emerging framework preserves substantial regulatory authority for federal, state and local governments and provides an assessment of the constitutionality of the leading proposals for regulatory reform that have emerged in the wake of the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.,” Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal was recommended to the local CAGV chapter by Mary Leigh Blek of Orange County.

“I have heard Rosenthal speak, and he is both factual and inspirational," she told Noozhawk. "I have a personal reason for working tirelessly for gun control legislation. My son was murdered while visiting New York City on a college spring break. He was robbed by three 15-year-olds and then shot. The group had killed an electric company worker earlier in the day. The killings were done by ‘junk guns’ — they are cheap and easy to conceal. I had to do something. Through grassroots efforts we have been able to control these junk guns — we have seen a striking reduction in gun deaths in California as a result.”

Blek and her husband, Charles, founded the Orange County Citizens for the Prevention of Gun Violence in 1995, a year after her son died. She later became the western regional organizer for the Million Mom March in 2000. Blek was also the co-founder and president of the Bell Campaign, a grassroots organization in Orange County dedicated to the prevention of gun deaths and injuries.

The luncheon program ended with its traditional Bell Ceremony held to remember those who have lost loved ones to gun violence. CAGV tolled the bell to honor the memories of those killed at the Goleta post office massacre in 2006, the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook and the recent victims at Fort Hood, Texas.

Members of the audience who had lost a family member or friend to gun violence were invited to say the name of their loved one and ring the bell.

Elected officials had strong attendance to show support to the organization, including Rep. Lois Capps, Assemblyman Das Williams, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, county Supervisors Janet Wolf and Salud Carbajal, Mayor Helene Schneider, City Councilman Gregg Hart and Councilwoman Cathy Murillo, former mayors Sheila Lodge, Marty Blum and Margaret Connell, and former Supervisor Susan Rose.

Capps spoke about her sponsorship of House Resolution 1177, the Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act, which she introduced in Congress in March 2013. It would amend the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to modify the definition of "intimate partner" to include a dating partner or former dating partner of a person (replacing language including an individual who cohabitates or has cohabitated with the person). It extends the prohibition against the transport, possession, or receipt of a firearm to a person who is subject to a court order restraining the person from harassing, stalking, threatening, or placing in reasonable fear of bodily injury an intimate partner, a child of such intimate partner, a family member, or an individual who cohabitates or has cohabitated with the person.

“The people closest to the offender are those most at risk of violence, including gun violence, when an abused partner is trying to leave,” Capps said.

For more information on the Coalition Against Gun Violence, call Wellen at 805.684.8434 or click here. Connect with it on Facebook or Twitter: @sbcoalition.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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