Thursday, April 26 , 2018, 1:35 pm | Fair 59º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Concert Across America to End Gun Violence Performs in Santa Barbara

Musical artists perform and speakers call for action to prevent future gun violence, pass 'common sense gun legislation'

Latin rock band OZOMATLI performed at Concert Across America held at the Arlington Theatre. Click to view larger
Latin rock band OZOMATLI performed at Concert Across America held at the Arlington Theatre.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

While attendees sat inside the Arlington Theatre Sunday night for a concert to honor the lives of gun violence victims, 15 Americans were shot to death, said Bob Weiss, whose daughter Veronika, 19, was murdered in front of her sorority house in the 2014 Isla Vista mass shooting.

After witnessing tragedy after tragedy, musicians and activists joined for nationwide action and participated in Concert Across America. ​

More than 200 cities participated, including Santa Barbara and major venues in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Miami. The event was set in motion by Donna Dees, an activist who organized the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C., on Mother’s Day in 2000 and Santa Barbara resident Beryl Kreisel, a president of the board of Aha!

Concert Across America strived to commemorate the victims of gun violence and prevent future violence, and talk about it as an issue in the November election. 

A pressing issue on a speaker’s mind during the event was Proposition 63, a state ballot measure that would prohibit the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, and require certain individuals to pass a background check and obtain authorization from the California Department of Justice to purchase ammunition.

“All communities will have an opportunity to register to vote and to utilize their voice to vote for common sense gun legislation,” said Christina Pizarro, director of communications for Coalition Against Gun Violence and a member of Concert Across America committee.

“The concert will mobilize all communities to change the direction of our current gun legislation and policies.”

Gun violence and mass shootings should not be the new normal, Pizarro said. 

More than 30,000 Americans a year have reportedly died as a result of gun violence. In 2015, there were 372 mass shootings in the United States, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to Mass Shooting Tracker.

DMK Studio and the Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts performed at Concert Across America. Click to view larger
DMK Studio and the Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts performed at Concert Across America. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

“Music has the power to unite and inspire communities,” Pizarro said. “You should be able to go out to theaters, malls, universities, elementary schools and nightclubs without fear.” 

The musical program showcased 10 artists including the Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts, UCSB a cappella group Naked Voices, The One Voice Choir, rock group Venice and Latin rock band OZOMATLI, which performed center stage.​

The songs echoed inside the theater to support the war against gun violence and keep weapons out of the wrong hands, said Harry Rabin, Concert Across America artist coordinator and technical director.

“The artists clearly want to see a change in current gun legislation and stepped up to the plate lending their time and amazing talent to the challenge for change,” Rabin said.

“This is not about control. It is not about denying rights but instead it’s about making it difficult and hopefully impossible for firearms and ammunition to get into the wrong hands.”

The topic of firearms struck a powerful chord for OZOMATLI's saxophonist and clarinetist Ulises Bella. The majority of band members have been affected by gun violence, he said.

Bella said the concert, held on National Day of Remembrance for Murdered Americans, creates a space to not only bring attention to what's happening in America but to change the conversation surrounding gun violence prevention.​

“The glaring issue in the United States with gun violence is out of control,” Bella said. “We feel strongly that there are ways to overcome this and it's important to use your voice."

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The Concert Across America included a musical performance by Lois Mahalia, Patrick and Rick Maiani alongside The One Voice Choir at the Arlington Theatre. Click to view larger
The Concert Across America included a musical performance by Lois Mahalia, Patrick and Rick Maiani alongside The One Voice Choir at the Arlington Theatre. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
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