Montebello police held a ‘town hall’ meeting last weekend to educate the community about gun safety and keeping guns away from children, but only a handful of residents showed up.
Nonetheless, Montebello police say they are committed to the effort and plan to hold more such meetings.
“Gun safety is such a huge issue especially when we have people in this city that don’t care where they throw their guns,” said Officer Brion Gorrell, referring to suspects who toss their guns while being chased by police. “It upsets me to think that a child could get a hold of a gun and get hurt.”
The few people who did attend received personal attention, including tips on how to safely store and handle their guns.
Police also gave away gunlocks and raffled off a gun safe, courtesy of a local business and Project ChildSafe, a nationwide program promoting gun safety.
Gorrell said the department organized the town hall on their own without the help of the city.
The gun safety workshop was the first of its kind in the city and Gorrell expects they will continue.
“It’s every city’s duty to educate people” about guns, he told EGP. “If it saves one life it was well worth it.”
Gorrell told EGP the police department is also open to visiting classrooms, offices, homes or clubs for one-on-one presentations.
Longtime Montebello resident Silvia Gonzalez told EGP that she is happy that the police department is going out into the community to engage the public.
“I give them a lot of credit for making themselves visible,” she said.
Gonzalez believes more advertisement of these types of events will increase resident participation.
“Maybe next year there will be more participation.”
“It’s a good event but it’s geared for families,” added resident Susie Reynosa. “It’s too bad we didn’t have a lot of family participation.”
Azusa resident Romelia Villegas attended the event with her family because she thinks it is important for young adults to be educated on the dangers of guns.
“You have teenagers who spend hours grabbing virtual guns in video games,” she said.
Gorrell said Montebello is home to a large number of gun owners, not all of them legal.
“I’m sure in every household somebody has a gun. We come across guns on a daily basis in the city,” he said.
Gorrell claims the town hall was not organized in response to last year’s gang raids in the city, conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Montebello Police and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. But “it certainly goes hand in hand,” he said.
“People are always going to get illegal guns,” Gorrell said, expressing the importance of gun education. “They are going to be here whether you like it or not,” so it’s best to prepared.
Interested residents can still obtain gunlocks at the city’s police department.