‘Operation LIPSTICK’ takes aim at gun trafficking

A Bay Area congresswoman will host a forum Friday that aims to empower women to stop illegal gun trafficking.

Jackie SpeierRep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, along with various public health, law enforcement and social service organizations are introducing “Operation LIPSTICK,” an attempt to disrupt illegal pipelines that deliver guns to criminals. The coalition will hold a public forum, “Empowering Women to Stop Illegal Gun Trafficking: A New Public Health Approach,” from 1 to 2:30 p.m. in the San Mateo City Council Chambers, 330 W. 20th Ave.

Brace yourself, acronym fans: LIPSTICK stands for “Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner-City Killing.” The initiative will use educational workshops, leadership development and community organizing to build support networks for women at risk of being caught up in illegal gun trafficking.

Men with criminal records who can’t pass background checks often exploit women with clean records as “straw buyers” to buy guns for them, and those often guns end up being used in street crime, Speier’s office said in a news release.

“LIPSTICK will empower women who are exploited by traffickers to say no to supplying guns to criminals,” Speier said in the news release. “They often unwittingly contribute to gun deaths in our communities. Education will make them less vulnerable to manipulation, make our streets safer and save lives.”

Speier will be joined at Friday’s forum by David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Research Control Center; former ATF agent David Chipman; Nancy Robinson, executive director of Citizens for Safety; and S.T. Mayer, the San Mateo County Health System’s policy and planning director.

“As women have helped reduce drunk driving, they can mobilize to reduce firearm violence,” Hemenway said in Speier’s news release.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    “LIPSTICK stands for “Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner-City Killing”

    Oh, help me! I wonder how long it took how many people to come up with that gem. Your tax dollars at work.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    We must put an end to to guns before guns put an end to us. Yrs truly, Wilhelm Tell

  • JohnW

    I applaud the goal but am skeptical that they can do much about girlfriends who act as straw buyers for their gangsta boyfriends who can’t pass background checks.

    But it is remarkable that so-called gun rights advocates protest even at any attempt to stop straw buyers and traffickers. They talk a good story about focusing on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, not law abiding citizens. But then they oppose, defund and obstruct any modest effort to do just that.

  • MichaelB

    What’s “remarkable” is you ignoring political reality – gun control supporters never running out of so called “modest” efforts that they want to implement. As though bad guys will all be “caught” by another round of legal regulations.

    How about the already poor record of the Obama Administration in prosecuting those already failing the current background checks? But now they want/need an “expanded” check to supposedly “fix” things.

    Some of us do not want the government running/controlling the gun ownership process from start to finish regardless of the so called “benefits” people claim will result. So called “progressives” like Speier talk a good story but have spoken on this issue many times for those bothering to pay attention – it’s “the fewer the guns, the better” or the “need” to bear arms.

    It doesn’t matter if the person who owns a gun does so legally/is doing something wrong with it or not. If you’ve got one, operate gun shop, promote a gun show, etc., you are a “public health” problem that needs to be eliminated to “reduce gun violence”.

  • MichaelB

    It’s lipstick on a pig.

    I can just imagine what the so called “educational workshop” and “community organizing” portion of this program will cover given the backgrounds/political leanings of the supporters – blaming guns for violence, arguing guns are a “public health” problem, advocating for more “safety” regulations on legal gun owners, trying to prevent gun shops from opening or operating in cities, etc.

  • JohnW

    Maybe if somebody you personally knew had been killed by a trafficked firearm, of if you been on the wrong end of a bullet, you might be a little less dogmatic on the subject and be open to solutions that could reduce the problem without taking away your precious right to bear arms.

  • Elwood

    Oh please, John! You sound like one of those little pro gun control old ladies. I expect better arguments from you without the syrupy drama.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Well, darlin’, I’ve been mugged twice (lightly injured once. Dudes were interrupted by male passers-by) I know 3 c-store guys shot by culturally deprived yoofs. One of the injured was a Black adult who carries a dent in his head to this day. So don’t hand out no It Could Happen to You! jive. Why do people “need” firearms? Ask them.

  • JohnW

    Syrupy drama?

    Tell that to the families of the two local ladies shot (one killed, the the other critically wounded) over a fender bender caused by the shooter. Guess he was just having a bad day. Or the lady shot by a homeowner in Detroit when she knocked on the guy’s front door to ask for help.

    It just astounds me that people would be against efforts to stop gun trafficking, when those are the guns that end up killing innocent people in the streets.

  • JohnW

    I’ve been mugged too. They had switch blades but no guns, so I’m alive. Not so lucky was the son of one of my former bosses. An English teacher in the Bronx, he was knifed and shot to death. At least he had a school named after him as a result. So, heck, maybe it was worth it. As for the woman behind “Operation Lipstick,” she knows a thing or two about being on the wrong end of a bullet.

  • MichaelB


    You mean like gun control advocates never getting tired of passing more and more regulations and saying it’s “for the children”. Or the “gun lobby” or gun manufacturers are supposedly responsible for violence?
    You expect “solutions” from people who think/say things like this?

    When are you going to be “open” to the idea that people legally owning guns/minding their own business are not the “problem”? That violence is just a little more complicated than a gun being around?

  • MichaelB

    Maybe you’ll consider who wants the legislation/what it actually involves to address so called “gun trafficking” before just jumping in and saying “we need it”? Or what is actually going to be done to the individuals who engage in “trafficking” activity?

    It just astounds me that politicians/activists who have a long history of opposing the 2nd Amendment/blaming guns for violence would now like us to believe they are only interested in “illegal” guns or “trafficking”. Yeah right. Just like more regulations/bans now being referred to as “gun safety” instead of “gun control” because it sounds nicer.

    Sure. Gun control supporters want to stop “trafficking” – by just making it as difficult as possible for any law abiding person who wants to purchase a firearm with a legal transaction/allowing a gun shop to legally operate in their city.

  • MichaelB

    Sounds pretty syrupy to me.

    Tell us how new firearms regulations will work to reduce violence vs. the predictable “collective guilt” or “blood on your hands” argument.

    Some of us are tired of being “told” we are “responsible” for someone else’s bad decision making and poor behavior. If a female boss doesn’t perform her job well should all women not be allowed to be supervisors as a “prevention” measure?

  • JohnW

    I’m for whatever it takes, within the constitution, to shut down gun trafficking that kills innocent people in the streets every day. I’m for requiring people to report gun thefts . Why on Earth would even the most purist 2nd Amendment champion oppose that, knowing that stolen guns invariably are used to commit crimes? And yet they do oppose that!

  • JohnW

    See my comments on gun trafficking and requiring gun thefts to be reported in a timely manner. Can’t relate to your hypothetical, since I’ve worked with numerous highly competent female executives, including my last boss — a gun owner, by the way!

  • JohnW

    God forbid you be inconvenienced by a background check — which is no violation of your 2nd Amendment rights.

    Yes, it is true that some people who advocate better laws to deal with trafficking (a real problem you appear to acknowledge) favor other restrictions that are constitutional but more controversial. I’m one of them. But I believe each idea should be considered based on its own merits, not based on who is proposing it or slippery slope arguments.

  • MichaelB

    Keep spinning on this issue.

    The gun control movement is long past the “background check” discussion. Are you finally going to admit they lied after saying for years that “all they wanted was the Brady bill”?

    The first thing we heard from so called “progressives” after the Sandy Hook shooting was a gun ban for law abiding people having nothing to do with violence. There was no “merit”. The federal assault weapons ban was ineffective when enacted earlier per remarks at a US Senate hearing. A gun ban is just an “inconvenience”?

    Try and remember this the next time we hear the call for “better laws” – the ones that criminals just ignore. God forbid you might actually figure out it doesn’t seem to matter if something actually has to work or not. And will finally get past the irritating “collective guilt” or “blood on your hands” justification.

  • MichaelB


    I feel “safer” already. Making a law abiding person report a gun theft in a “timely matter”. And then doing what to them if they don’t do it fast enough?

    What about the thief?

  • MichaelB

    The person who actually stole the gun is the problem. The legal owner should be left alone/not be subject to liability because they did not discover the loss/report the theft “fast enough”.

    The “trafficking” stuff sounds nice but gun control supporters usually have to be dragged kicking and screaming to punish/prosecute those guilty of firearms violations. If you let these people go free expect more problems later on.

  • JohnW

    Are you serious? Forget about whether there is a law or not. If you have a gun stolen, do you not think that it would be a good idea to report that to law enforcement? Why wouldn’t a law abiding person want to report that? Either in hopes of recovering the gun, or to help the cops stop or investigate a crime?

    The reality is that guns used in crimes are often traced back to the owner (who may or may not have some involvement in the crime or be protecting someone or who may be a small-time trafficker). When questioned, they often respond with the “oops, I guess somebody must have stolen it.” explanation. If the law requires them to report the theft, they explanation wouldn’t cut it.

  • JohnW

    Well, at least you acknowledge that “the trafficking stuff sounds nice.” But I don’t agree with your comment that gun control supporters have to be dragged kicking and screaming to punish/prosecute those guilty of firearms violations — as though they don’t want to. That’s a matter of available resources and all kinds NRA sponsored obstacles they encounter trying to identify and track straw buyers in the first place.

    Fact is, gun manufacturers have the same attitude as the smart-phone makers and dealers who don’t want to put “kill switches” on phones. They make tons of money selling replacement phones. Same thing with gun manufacturers. Anything that helps reduce trafficking is bad for business. And, of course, the law protects them from liability. So, what do they care what happens to the gun once they sell it?

  • MichaelB

    So the truth comes out. The gun manufacturers are the “villians” because they make legal products you don’t agree with and make a profit while doing it.
    Thanks for letting us know what your attitude is about so called “trafficking” – if we just force gun manufacturers to accept “responsibility” for what criminal third parties do with their products that is beyond their control. Sheer silliness.
    Always an excuse to blame guns for violence and anything associated with them.

  • JohnW

    Oh, MichaelB, how you so cleverly twist my words! You are one true believer!

    My point was that, intentionally or not, the gun manufacturers materially benefit from gun thefts and trafficking. The ugly truth is that those things are good for business.

    The gun lobby talks out of both sides of its mouth. On the one hand, they argue that prosecutors don’t even enforce the gun laws already on the books. (In fact, they do to the best of their ability). Then, through political action organizations like the NRA and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), they stealthily work to make sure that law enforcement doesn’t have the investigative resources and tools they need to aggressively enforce those laws.