20190809-bc-huerta

Trena Turner, executive director of Faith in the Valley, shares a prayer with rally attendees Thursday morning. The Dolores Huerta Foundation organized a rally in front of Kevin McCarthy's Bakersfield office to denounce his comments about mass shootings.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Congress and the president to do anything meaningful about gun control. If history is a lesson, the three recent mass shootings only will receive the usual thoughts and prayers. Powerful campaign donors, notably the National Rifle Association, will cower lawmakers into doing nothing.

Both parties will continue to be more interested in using the blood flowing from the nation’s gunshot wounds to fundraise and campaign, rather than unite in a bipartisan effort to get military-style assault weapons off America’s streets and require the backgrounds of gun buyers to be checked.

Americans are reeling from the three mass shooting that occurred in Gilroy, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over eight days. Thirty-four people died – some of them very young children.

And, again, we hear that it is too soon to talk about political solutions to the nation’s gun epidemic. Let people mourn.

So, just when should we talk about it? Six weeks later, when senators return to Washington from their summer vacations and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell may – or likely may not – allow votes on gun legislation? Then, as in the past, we will be told Americans have “moved on.” There is no interest in passing new laws.

So far, no time or effort has been spent uniting the country in a search for causes and solutions. Rather, we mostly see finger-pointing and name-calling. Some want to focus on mental health issues, rather than the role of incendiary political speech. Others offer ridiculous theories that the carnage is caused by people playing “violent video games.”

Angry protestors in Dayton screamed “DO SOMETHING” at their governor, when he showed up to console people at the site of that city’s shooting, where nine people died and 27 people were injured.

Don’t wait for our politicians to do something. We can do something now.

Reject the nonsense that we should not focus on the shooters. The theory goes that publicity only will feed the egos of like-minded maniacs. But it also will cause scrutiny of a system that fails to protect us. It also can hold accountable the people who are aiding and abetting the killers.

Each of the three recent shooters carried in excess of $1,000 in assault weapons. In addition, searches of their vehicles and homes turned up more expensive weapons and tactical gear. Just where did these unemployed, or underemployed young men get their money? Who supported them? 

Let people know that Santino William Legan was only 19 when he attacked the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28, killing three and injuring 13. Legan died in the attack. Although his motives are unclear, the FBI is investigating the attack as domestic terrorism. A hit list of other political and religious targets was found. Legan had posted on social media references to “hordes of Mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats,” as well as praise for an 1890 white supremacist manifesto. Raised in Gilroy, he listed his parents’ home as his residence, before renting an apartment and moving to rural Nevada just months before the shooting. Where did Legan get his money? 

Let people know that Patrick Crusius was only 21 on the morning of Aug. 3, when he drove about 700 miles from his home in Allen, Texas, where his family lives, to the border town of El Paso to shoot up a Walmart. Twenty-two people were killed and 24 injured. Crusius survived and is in custody. There’s no doubt about his motives. He posted a four-page white supremacist manifesto online and later told police he wanted to kill as many Mexicans as possible. The shooting is being investigated as domestic terrorism. Where did Crusius get his money? 

Let people know Connor Betts was 24 when he shot up an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, in the early morning of Aug. 4, killing nine people and injuring 27 in just 30 seconds. Among the dead was his sister. We may never know Betts’ motivation because he was shot and killed by police at the scene. His social media postings were left-leaning and misogynistic. When he was a senior in high school, he was suspended for posting a hit list containing the names of female classmates he wanted to kill or rape. He had a long history of threatening women. He had an obsession with violent death. A college student majoring in psychology, he lived in Ohio with his parents and sister. His LinkedIn page listed only fast food employers. Where did Betts get his money? 

Elect politicians who will stand up to the gun lobby. Californians have a record of doing that. California has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws. And in 2016, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 63, which requires background checks to buy ammunition. The requirement went into effect in July. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra reports that in just the first month, 100 people, who had been convicted of crimes, or deemed ineligible for other reasons, were blocked from buying bullets.

Hold elected officials and law enforcement accountable for enforcing existing gun laws. Determine if these laws are effective and how they should be strengthened.

We are not powerless. We do not have to wait for cowardly politicians to act. Demand answers. Elect representatives who will force change.