Hilbert Morales | EL OBSERVADOR
Photo Credit: Unsplash

On Sunday, July 28, 2019 a ‘mass shooting event’ happened at the 41st Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival. That gunman had evaded security checks at the entry by entering through an opening cut into the chain linked fence.

Once inside the Gilroy Garlic Festival, that 19-year-old gunman opened fire, wounding 12 individuals and murdering three. Police onsite responded by immediately killing the gunman who had been armed with a high-performance military rifle.

All involved very likely have some level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which may need some future mental or behavioral health services and attention.

This sort of event is not unexpected because for decades, the National Rifle Association has acted as the principal lobbyist for the firearms industry. Founded during 1871, the NRA at first promoted gun safety education and hunting sports.

Also promoted was marksmanship. NRA became transformed into a arms manufacturing lobbyist which promoted the sale of firearms to civilians while defend the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It reads as follows: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Our community lost three young people: Abuela (grandmother) Romero, who recently retired from Social Services Agency, mourned the loss of her six-year-old grandson. The Salazar family mourns the loss of a teenage daughter. A recent 25-year-old college graduate was killed; and twelve injured individuals remain traumatized.

Family members and friends had left their East San Jose homes for an enjoyable Sunday afternoon and instead experienced an unspeakable mass shooting and the loss of their loved ones.

On Monday, Whoopi Goldberg moderated the TV Program “The View” which informed its viewers that during the first 210 days of 2019, the United States had experienced 290 mass shootings. America is the only nation with that many mass shootings happening in its own communities.

The NRA has promoted for decades the sale of guns successfully. Today in our nation there exist more guns than residents. It is time for constituents to have the U.S. Congress adopt laws which classify weapons into two classes: 1) hand weaponry (sidearms, rifles, shotguns) which fulfill the First Amendment right to bear arms. And 2) military weapons which include all high-performance weapons such as AK-15 which were designed for use by combat infantry to provide superior firepower.

Civilians do not need the performance capability of these military weapons. If sold to civilians, these military grade weapons need to be licensed; the owner needs to have a gun ownership permit following a comprehensive personal background check (which preferably needs to be repeated on a 10-year cycle).

In addition, the U.S. Congress needs to review all laws which NRA lobbyists promoted, and which became ‘laws of the land’. The first one which needs to be revoked is the legislation NRA promoted some years ago which prevent the reporting of ‘gun violence resulting in a killing’ to a central federal agency, such as the Department of Justice or FBI. This law prevents the collection of a national database relating to gun-violence which would be useful in crafting appropriate specific legislation.

Gunowners keep citing their rights to own and bear arms. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads as follows: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Keep in mind that during the 1700’s, only handguns and rifles existed; the militia was really the local citizens who were called to duty to defend their community so each of them had the responsibility to own and have a weapon of their choice.

Today, the NRA and gunowners seem to ignore the words ‘regulated militia’ and ‘people’. The right to own and bear arms was determined by the ‘people’ of a community, not by individuals. Recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings support this interpretation which permits communities to regulate gun sales and ownership.

Our nation needs to take stock of guns and gun ownership/commerce. Military high-performance weaponry does not need to be in the hands of civilians, but rather in the control of law-enforcement agencies and the military.

Too many suicides and killings happen because too many guns already exist in our homes and communities. America has the highest level of gun violence in its communities when compared to other nations. Japan with a population exceeding 100 million residents experienced less than a total of 20-gun killings per year!

In addition, American citizens need to learn about American foreign aid which really facilitates the sale of weapons. Many of the weapons used today in the Mid-East are guns and rifles funded and provided as military aid. Many of those weapons end up being used against our own troops.

The NRA is a very effective gun commerce lobbyist which uses its influence on the U.S. Congress very effectively. To thwart proposed gun legislation, NRA needs only to influence with its campaign contributions only enough legislators to ensure that no majority vote ever happens. That is a practice of many corporations today. The outcome is that corporate special interests end up having more legislative influence than “We, The People”, and that is very wrong and undercuts democratic ideals.

There is more to gun violence and its prevention than meets the eye today. Now that a mass shooting has happened in our community, We, The People need to be motivated enough to insist that guns and gun ownership be regulated using permits and licenses. Each of us needs to speak up with our opinions to our local elected officials at the local, state and federal levels.

To remain silent and mute is to be complicit in letting gun violence not be mitigated in some appropriate manner. I recommend beginning with ‘talking to each other’ and conveying our concerns to our local elected officials. We, The People have the responsibility to begin the regulation process. Plan to speak up and deliver your values and concerns about gun violence and gun safety which does not have to be as prevalent in our community as it currently is.