“Do Something! Do Something!”
The chants rang out loud and clear in Dayton, Ohio. There hasn’t been much of a response.
The signs at vigils in Texas read, “No more guns.” In Texas, well, not much of a response.
The calls to action in these cities followed a familiar pattern of fear, tears, prayers and vigils, praise of heroes, a renewed sense of community—and inevitably, the funerals.
Of course, here in Gilroy, this pattern and these feelings—of grief, rage, helplessness, pain and sorrow—are very, very real. Our beloved city park is a crime scene. The sandy soil has absorbed the pools of blood, but the stains remain. Police scour the turf for bits of evidence. Four people are still struggling with pain and new realities in a hospital in San Jose. Another 13 will have scars and degrees of pain for the rest of their lives. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, go to bed each night with the sights and sounds of terror, an anxiety that won’t shake loose, a loss of trust not easily restored.
The images of this August mayhem are eerily similar: lone gunmen wearing body armor, heads filled with hateful screeds, calmly and quietly dispensing bursts of death and life-changing injuries into families and young people innocently enjoying late summer activities.
Here in Gilroy, after the initial triage, we rushed headlong to embrace each other, to remind ourselves of the strong sense of community, of the heroes in our midst, of our city’s resilience and compassion.
In Gilroy, there have been no calls to “do something.” Amidst all of the GilroyStrong speeches there has been scant mention of the weapons of mass destruction at the center of this epidemic of killing.
Granted, California appears to have done more than any other state—perhaps all that is possible short of confiscation—to control guns, especially semi-automatic weapons, Our city’s most recent tragedy occurred because a semi-automatic weapon, magazines and ammunition were easily purchased in a neighboring state, making a mockery of state-specific gun laws. Illinois and New York share a similar problem.
At least Gov. Newsom complained that the problem lies with the White House and the Republicans in Congress, echoed by some of our state representatives. A vote on a House of Representatives bill with some modest new gun restrictions remains blocked by the Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate.
So it may be understandable, with real local problems whose solutions seem so far away, that there have been no chants in Gilroy to “do something,’” because it appears that our politicians and community leaders have done everything they can, and that we are all at the mercy of powers beyond our control or influence.
Or are we? Republicans in Congress can be pressured by registered Republicans, especially elected officials who are Republicans, to pass the House-approved gun control bill. All elected officials can aggressively speak out against racism and all levels of intolerance. There are not enough social workers or mental health counselors in our schools. Community health, mental health and family services are woefully underfunded. Some of our shooting victims had no health insurance, while others were under-insured, as our national healthcare system limps along. Drug prices, lack of coverage for rehabilitation and life-long disabilities will be grim realities for many of the survivors of the Garlic Festival shootings.
There is much we can do. If we are truly GilroyStrong, then that strength must be applied to more than short-term healing. The community’s strength would be wasted if it were only used to rush back to business-as-usual. The strength will actually grow if it is applied to pressure Congress for bold, significant action against weapons of mass destruction, if it is applied to build racial harmony, if it is applied to ensure adequate healthcare for all of our citizens. Let’s do some things.

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