Thursday, April 26 , 2018, 1:21 pm | Fair 59º


Toni Wellen: Isla Vista Rampage — One Year Later, We Remember and We Take Action

One year ago, our community lost six innocent lives — 14 others were wounded — and thousands of UCSB students were traumatized as vigils were held daily. The entire community of Santa Barbara grieved, and many will always remember this senseless act of violence.

The Coalition Against Gun Violence will be attending the Candlelight Vigil and Memorial Walk on May 23 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Isla Vista shootings. The walk begins at 7:30 p.m. at Storke Plaza  and ends in Isla Vista at People’s Park. For more information, click here.

There were gaps in the system enabling this emotionally disturbed person in Isla Vista to run amok. Our elected representatives — Assembly members Nancy Skinner, D-Sacramento, and Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara — lost no time in searching for how to intervene in similar cases. Their bill, AB 1014, the Gun Violence Restraining Order, was passed and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, enabling families and/or law enforcement to file a court order temporarily limiting a person with an elevated risk of dangerous behavior from owning or purchasing a firearm for one year.

Mass shootings shock the nation into awareness, and yet other horrific slaughters of innocents by gun violence keep occurring. Sadly, the shock soon dissipates and the banality of 30,000 gun deaths by suicide, homicide and accident per year sets in. The American people must take action to prevent these tragedies from happening every day in every city in America. We have become numb to this constant slaughter of loved ones that leaves families in an unforgettable state of grief.

After each mass shooting, questions of mental health are raised in the ensuing policy discussions. However, the majority of individuals with serious mental illnesses are not dangerous. Most counties in California use a mental health treatment standard based on a person’s likelihood of being dangerous instead of using a more progressive "need for treatment" standard. California has a law regarding highly symptomatic individuals with severe mental illness that counties may choose to implement, which many counties are. If families were offered more guidance and communities enacted court-ordered counseling, such as Laura’s Law, more of the seriously mentally ill would get the treatment needed.

However, most acts of violence are committed by individuals who are not mentally ill. Being a young male or a substance abuser (alcohol or drugs) is a greater risk factor for violent behavior than being mentally ill.

We can agree: There are too many gun deaths in America  — averaging 87 per day = over 30,000 yearly — making gun violence a public health menace.

We can also agree: Guns are here to stay. No one’s going to take your gun away. That is a gun lobby fear tactic. Gun violence prevention organizations don’t talk about banning all guns. They talk about reasonable gun policies and work closely with law enforcement and elected officials.

The Coalition Against Gun Violence is celebrating its 20th anniversary on May 17, working to reduce gun violence and educate our community regarding the dangers of guns in the home, especially with minor children present. We know that gun violence is a public health epidemic and requires each of us to take a stand. To learn more about how you can become involved, visit our website by clicking here and let us know you are ready to take a stand to reduce gun violence in our community. Get involved!

Remember the slogan after Isla Vista: Not One More.

— Toni Wellen chairs the Coalition Against Gun Violence.

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