Candidates for 45th speak on gun violence

In light of the recent high school shooting in Santa Clarita, California, candidates for the 45th district discuss their thoughts on gun control. Photo Courtesy of Abbie DeMuth

A vigil was held at Chapman Nov. 15 to commemorate the lives lost during the Saugus High School shooting in Santa Clarita, California, Nov. 14. “Oh my gosh, not again,” was Cisa Payuyo’s, associate director of the Office of Church Relations, initial reaction.

Approximately 25 students, faculty and staff attended the vigil at the Fish Interfaith Center, accompanied with mourning and tears. The names of the students who died at the shooting were read as well as the names and locations of shootings in the past year. Brandy Lustgarten, a sophomore strategic and corporate communication major, attended the vigil and said that events like these bring people together.

“It’s such a tragedy and you just want to have support during these times,” said Lustgarten, who calls Santa Clarita home.

In response to the shooting and renewed calls for gun legislation, The Panther spoke to Republican candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 45th district, which encompasses Orange County, to hear how they plan to tackle the issue of gun control and gun violence.

Each candidate’s answers have been lightly edited for clarity and stylistic standards.

Lisa Sparks is the dean of the School of Communication and serves on the Orange County Board of Education. Sparks gave a statement to The Panther in a Nov. 15 email.

“While I am in favor of our second amendment right to bear arms, this epidemic of gun violence calls out for bold and faithful action. It is too easy for us to become immune to the reports of mass shootings and hate crimes that flood our airwaves,” the email read. “Some key policy changes I would like to be involved with include: universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, known as ‘red flag’ laws that allow law enforcement, after due process, to take guns from people who are found to be a danger to themselves or others, and more systematic evidence-based research on gun violence.”

Don Sedgwick is the mayor of Laguna Hills and served on the Saddleback Valley Unified School District Board for 18 years. He spoke to The Panther in a Nov. 15 interview.

Q: Are there any gun control pieces of legislation that you would support in Washington to address gun violence, such as a basic universal background check bill?

A: We have background checks in place, and in this case of this shooting, we have a 16-year-old young man who would not have been able to purchase a firearm even with the background checks. Even if legislation would or wouldn’t be passed, it would have had no effect on this case and many others. We need to support gun control measures that are out there right now and the laws that are out there need to be enforced.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: We need to review the legislation and enforce laws out there. Gun control has no impact on the tragedy that occurred yesterday and we need to go further than gun control. We need to recognize as a nation that mental illness is real and we need to be quicker to provide the resources people need, especially youngsters in our school systems. We need to have some discussion on how we might be able to identify those challenges before disaster strikes.

Greg Raths is the mayor of Mission Viejo and a Marine Corps veteran. He spoke to The Panther in a Nov. 15 interview.

Q: Are there any gun control pieces of legislation that you would support in Washington to address gun violence, such as a basic universal background check bill?

A: I like what we have here in California, where we do a background check. Now more and more people may have mental illnesses or an issue where they go off the rails and do something violent. I’m comfortable with that – the Bill of Rights says we have the right to bear arms, so I don’t want to get to the point where no one can own a gun. We do have that right in our country and I don’t want to lose it.

Q: Would you be willing to work across the aisle with Democrats to come up with some form of gun control legislation?

A: I reach across the aisle all the time. I have no problem working with anybody who wants to find a solution so our children aren’t in danger. I want what’s best for the country, not just my party. My god, you leave out half the country. I will find a solution to reduce violence, but I also want to protect 99.9 percent of gun owners that are good people that understand the responsibility of owning a gun – I want to also protect them.

Peggy Huang is a representative on the Yorba Linda City Council and serves in the Transportation Corridor Agencies as a representative. She spoke to The Panther in a Nov. 15 interview.

Q: Are there any gun control pieces of legislation that you would support in Washington to address gun violence, such as a basic universal background check bill?

A: I support background checks. Yes, I’d vote on a bill to pass universal background checks. You know how it is with legislation; you start out with a really good intent, and then people pile on garbage into it. Instead of having a clean bill, you have a whole lot of other stuff in it – it makes it difficult for politicians to support it when they support one item, but not the other 99. I support a very clean, one item bill.

Q: Do you think that the issue of gun violence warrants any action from Congress?

A: When I look at what gun violence is in the sphere where I work, no amount of restrictions has dealt with an issue. Chicago for an example has very strict gun control laws with restrictions put in; they have some of the highest gun violence in the nation. Gun violence is so broad and multifaceted, I prefer addressing it issue by issue.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: Guns themselves don’t kill people, it’s the person, so we need to go into the psyche of the person holding the gun.