Gun control was front and center at this week's Irvine City Council meeting following the slaying of two residents Feb. 3.
Mayor Steven Choi began and ended Tuesday's meeting in memory of Cal State Fullerton assistant basketball coach Monica Quan, 28, and her fiance, USC public safety officer Keith Lawrence, 27, the first alleged victims of suspected cop-turned-killer Christopher Dorner.
Councilman Larry Agran, perturbed by the council's silence on the issue of gun control, suggested amending the city's 2013 State and Federal Legislative Platform to incorporate restrictions on gun and ammunition ownership.
The legislative platform serves as a guide for city officials, staff and legislative advocates on the city's priorities for lawmakers at the state and federal levels.
"I have not met a single person in Irvine who didn't, in the aftermath of what happened at Newtown, ask whether Newtown could be our town — and of course, it could," he said.
Agran said every year about 12 Irvine residents die from gun-related violence, which is about half the national average.
The amendment failed 2 to 3, with Choi, Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Lalloway and Councilwoman Christina Shea dissenting. The legislative platform as originally proposed passed 5 to 0.
Residents came forward to rally the council's support for increased gun safety measures after Agran introduced the amendment.
"Gun violence in this country has become absolutely epidemic," Toni Dwyer said. "From Newtown, Conn., to Chicago, Ill., to right here in our very own city of Irvine — a very safe city. And we cannot ignore this devastating scourge."
Alan Meyerson cited Irvine's reputation as one of the nation's safest cities, adding that inaction regarding gun safety would damage the city's recognition.
"I'm not saying we should take guns away from people or take away their 2nd Amendment rights," he said. "What I am saying is that there should be a limit to what they can have, and we should set that example because people look to this city for leadership."
Lalloway flatly opposed the amendment, calling on California's already strict laws. Faced by a discussion about universal background checks and restrictions on high-capacity ammunition clips and "certain" assault weapons, Lalloway suggested trying to repeal the 2nd Amendment altogether.
"The one word I have not heard today is the 'Constitution,'" he said. "Everyone wants to protect the 1st Amendment, and I'm among them, but no one wants to protect the 2nd Amendment. We may not like it, we may disagree with it, but it's the Constitution of the United States."
According to Shea, the council was ill-prepared for an in-depth dialogue about gun violence.
She agreed with Councilwoman Beth Krom that a conversation about illegal gun violence should go hand-in-hand with one about youth and adult mental-health issues.
Krom, who joined the group Mayors Against Illegal Gun Violence when she was mayor, said, "I take exception to the suggestion, especially at a time when a fugitive is out there and we open tonight's meeting in memory of [a] couple that was gunned down right here in our city, that to raise the concept of this council taking a position on gun safety in America is somehow inappropriate. I disagree."
Lalloway also drew a parallel between the restrictive gun laws of Detroit, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. and the increased propensity for violence in each of those cities.
"I hate to say it, but it seems to me just another politician trying to get out in front of this issue — it's today's issue of the day," he said.