Canepa joins mayors group targeting gun violence 

click to enlarge David Canepa
  • Courtesy Philip Matiatos
  • Daly City Mayor David Canepa, surrounded by anti-gun advocates, signs the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Statement of Principles on Sunday.
Gun violence is rare in Daly City and Mayor David Canepa wants to keep it that way.

Backed with unanimous approval from the City Council, he has joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national organization claiming a membership of more than 1,000 mayors.

Canepa said the City Council has resolved to work with the organization on several goals, including punishing illegal gun traffickers; keeping military-style guns and magazines off the street; and repealing the Tiahrt Amendment, a federal law that limits how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shares firearm trace data with local law enforcement agencies. Another goal of the group is to expand background checks to include private sales and gun shows such as Crossroads of the West, the annual gun show held at the Cow Palace in Daly City.

The mayor’s involvement was applauded by Daly City resident Pamela DiGiovanni, who said her life was impacted by gun violence when she was a teenager and one of her friends was shot to death while delivering paychecks for his father’s business. DiGiovanni said that although Daly City has very little gun violence, she supports efforts to prevent a repeat of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

She expressed concern at how guns are sold at the Big 5 Sporting Goods store on Gellert Boulevard, and she worries about those guns getting into the wrong hands. An employee of the store said it only sells hunting rifles and shotguns, and does not carry handguns.

Daly City Police Chief Manuel Martinez Jr. said that although the gun-crime rate was relatively low in 2013, he didn’t have available data on the total number of gun-related incidents. Martinez credits several factors for the low incidence of gun violence in town, noting that Daly City is a bedroom community where residents are diligent about reporting suspicious activity. He also credits the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office for creating a climate in which felons face stiff charges and relentless prosecutors if they use guns.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said it would be difficult to say how many gun crimes occurred in Daly City or neighboring towns last year, partly because there are many ways gun crimes can be charged, but also because her office relies on a reporting system that’s about 15 years old.

Local cases in 2013 included an incident in September when two participants in a biker party were shot and then drove themselves to San Francisco General Hospital. In another incident, police said, a suspect fleeing a traffic stop pulled a gun on Officer Bruce Perdomo, who fatally shot him.

Canepa acknowledged that because Daly City is not plagued by gun violence, and no local ordinances would immediately result from his joining Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the position is largely symbolic.

But that came as no comfort to Brandon Combs, executive director of gun-rights group Calguns, who said cities tend to endorse Mayors Against Illegal Guns and then enact legislation infringing on the rights of lawful gun owners. According to Combs, California’s gun laws are already among the nation’s toughest.

“We have background checks. We have everything they could possibly devise,” Combs said. “The policies they’re promoting are already in place. … There is nothing reasonable about this conversation in California.”

Combs said the sale of guns at stores like Big 5 Sporting Goods poses little risk to the community, because employees and customers of gun stores must pass extensive background checks, and are therefore not likely to have a criminal history. “These are people who are walking into that store and saying, ‘Please scrutinize me,’” Combs noted.

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