Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 11:47 pm | Fair 70º

 
 
 
 

Toni Wellen: When a Peaceful Protest Becomes a Moment of Terror

Once again our nation is experiencing shock, numbing grief and profound sorrow because of gun violence.

Toni Wellen Click to view larger
Toni Wellen

The hearts of Americans are heavy with the burden of the tragedy that unfolded in Dallas. The Coalition Against Gun Violence extends our condolences to the families of the slain and wounded police officers in Dallas, and to the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the latest black victims killed by gun violence.

We are all touched by gun violence and must acknowledge that, although all lives matter, the violence in this country against black men and women and children has continued unabated since the time of slavery. People of all ethnicities must have equal justice and equal respect.

Racism and inequality long ignored in America has reached the boiling point. The supporters of #‎BlackLivesMatter come in all colors as, well they should.

We must reflect — that I am my brother’s, and my sister’s keeper — as we are all members of the human family.

What lessons must we learn? How will we heal this divide?

It is all too obvious that when a peaceful protest becomes a moment of terror due to a hate-filled man with a gun it is impossible to remain silent. The man who demonstrated the power of peaceful protest, the Rev. Martin Luther King, was killed by a gun.

The National Rifle Association’s mantra that a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun was tragically disproved. The proliferation and easy access in most states to military-style weapons and large-capacity magazines have caused the often hazardous job of law enforcement to become deadly. This is not the job they signed up for.

We are fortunate that California has the best gun violence prevention laws in the nation. After a school shooting in Stockton, assault weapons were banned in 1989 in California.

Just a few weeks ago the Santa Barbara City Council banned large-capacity magazines in our city.

Every day, 90 people are killed by a gun in America’s gun violence epidemic. There are more guns than people in this country. Therefore, it is finally time that the gun lobby learns through the voices of all Americans that guns have not made this nation safe.

In the process of grieving and healing, let us learn to understand with compassion for everyone and reach out with loving arms and not with firearms.

— Toni Wellen is chairwoman of the Coalition Against Gun Violence.

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