Local senior citizens’ activist group, Concerned Citizens of Laguna Woods Village, staged a “die-in” demonstration last Saturday outside of Representative Mimi Walters’s Irvine office to protest the lack of congressional action on gun control. The hourlong “die-in” featured dozens of group members lying on the sidewalk in front of the office pretending to be dead, and others marching around covered in bandages and fake blood to simulate injuries resulting from gun violence.
The demonstrators, the oldest of whom was 97, staged the protest after sending Rep. Walters several emails and letters encouraging her to listen to her constituency’s concerns over gun control laws. Her district encompasses a large portion of Orange County, including UC Irvine.
“On a federal level, about 80 percent of Americans are in favor of universal background checks,” said demonstrator Charles Blek. “I can’t believe that the other 20 percent all live in Mimi Walters’s district.”
Demonstrators walked around the business district surrounding Walters’s office, chanting “Oh me, oh my, I don’t want to die” and “People are dying Mimi, pass the bill; legislate, don’t hesitate.” Most held signs printed with slogans including “Regulation is not confiscation,” and “Mimi — Vote for no gun sales without background checks.”
The group hopes to win Rep. Walters’ support in passing three legislations: HR 3411, S 2934 and Proposition 63.
HR 3411 directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish a four-year implementation plan to “maximize the automation and submission of mental health and criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Back Check System (NICS).”
The bill also amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (BHVPA) to require federal agencies, departments and courts to provide the FBI with records of people prohibited from possessing a firearm. It also extends the BHVPA background checks to include transfers between private parties by prohibiting the private transfer unless a licensed dealer has taken possession of the firearm and submitted a background check first. Gun owners would also be required to report lost or stolen firearms to the DOJ and local law enforcements within 48 hours of discovery.
Proposition 63 would require many of the same court-ordered background checks and prohibitions on gun sales as HR 3411. It would also require a permit for people to purchase ammunition and also mandates that dealers check the permit before sale. The proposition specifically restricts the sale of large-capacity magazines and mandates that individuals report a theft or loss within five days and dealers within two days.
The proposition would also require courts to inform individuals prohibited from owning firearms that they must turn them over to local law enforcement, sell their firearms to a licensed dealer, or give them to a dealer for storage. Probation officers would also conduct mandatory reports on what prohibited individuals did with the firearms.
Another portion of Proposition 63 is meant to amend Proposition 47. Proposition 47 made stealing an item less than $950 a misdemeanor, which effectively made stealing a gun worth less than $950 only a misdemeanor as well. Prop 63 would make stealing a gun, even one valued less than $950, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.
The Concerned Citizens of Laguna Woods Village decided to demonstrate on Saturday despite Rep. Walters not being present at her office, and the fact that the House of Representatives is currently in recess.
However, Ian Samson, one of the group’s lead organizers, hopes that the demonstration as well as the group’s continuing lobbying efforts will still be successful in winning Rep. Walters’s support.
“A die-in like this is so unusual, especially involving a retirement community – you rarely see 80 and 90-year-olds put themselves in physical discomfort just to make a point,” said Samson. “If dozens of us are willing to come out in our wheelchairs and walkers and crutches, that’s a real statement about how serious we are about reasonable gun control legislation in this district.”