Seven years ago, Cathy Tyson received a New Year’s Eve phone call she will never forget. As she prepared to go to church, she was told her son had been killed in a shooting.
“No mother should ever have to bury her child,” Tysonsaid, remembering her son, Brian, who was killed in San Francisco. The gun that claimed Brian’s life was an AK-47. Tyson said her son would still be alive if he had not been shot with an automatic weapon.
His death prompted Tyson, along with Mothers of Murdered Children, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and dozens of community leaders, to protest the federal Tiahrt Amendment in the District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday. The group opposes the amendment and says it keeps local governments from accessing data that can help trace illicit gun use. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on a bill that contains the amendment, authored by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., later this week.
The group’s protest comes as gun violence has plagued The City’s streets in recent days, with three shootings on Monday alone. Police said a 19-year-old, identified as San Francisco resident Demetrius Maybums, was killed in the Bayview district during one of the shootings. The two other shootings were nonfatal.
In the last three years, the number of people treated for gunshot wounds at The City’s General Hospital has nearly doubled, from 110 in 2003 to 228 in 2006. Last year, 85 percent of The City’s homicides were gun-related; in 2001, firearms were the cause of 60 percent of San Francisco’s homicides, District Attorney Kamala Harris said.
According to Harris, the solution to the gun problem would start with the tracing of illegal firearms to traffickers. The flow of illegal firearms and automatic weapons is the direct cause of San Francisco’s homicides, she said. Jackson took it one step further, calling for a national ban on automatic weapons.
San Francisco police Chief Heather Fong said state, local and federal agencies have to band together and share information to end the flow of illegal weapons. The sharing of information between the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and municipal police departments would beconsidered a crime under the Tiahrt Amendment.