Monterey County residents, sadly, know a thing or two about getting shot. Salinas’ gun homicide rate has occasionally topped that of Chicago. The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting on July 28 made national news, but is simply part of a long history of local gun tragedies. Could a new plan make a difference?
Those who fetishize guns often point out that popular gun control proposals like universal background checks don’t stop mass shooters – they rarely show up in our weak, passive NICS databases – nor gang-bangers, who tend to traffic in illicit guns. Those arguments just became a lot harder after the group founded by Parkland, Florida survivors, March for Our Lives, released a bold gun control program, “A Peace Plan for a Safer America.” The plan has six pillars:
1. Change the standards of gun ownership
2. Halve the rate of gun deaths in 10 years
3. Accountability for the gun lobby and gun industry
4. Appoint a national director of gun violence prevention
5. Generate “community-based” solutions
6. Empower the next generation
Would these proposals lower gun violence in Monterey County? First, the Parkland Peace Plan would eliminate the very type of weapons favored by mass shooters and the high-capacity magazines those shooters dearly love.
Regardless, the 18-year-old Gilroy shooter would have been too young to buy any firearm, even in Nevada. Gun buyers would go through a licensing process that would require character references, something that virtually no mass public shooter could do. Why? The one unifying characteristic of mass public shooters is social alienation.
What about the cycle of violence that plagues some of our communities? Salinas is celebrating its multi-year drop in homicides and credits the very same “community-based solutions” touted by the Parkland Peace Plan. But the Peace Plan’s annual licensing requirements and a national database of weapons will significantly reduce the source of guns that end up on the streets, as will liability laws that hold gun-owners responsible for safe storage.
One often-ignored category of gun violence is domestic shootings. The person most likely to die from any gun is that gun’s owner. Second? An intimate partner. Two elements of the Parkland Peace Plan – extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) and gun buy-back and disposal programs – directly impact domestic gun violence. Removing the most-lethal means from the depressed and angry saves lives. As the plan states, “a 2018 study found that a Connecticut law similar to ERPO was associated with a 14-percent reduction in suicides.” That’s not just gun suicides, that is all suicides.
Would the March for Our Lives “Peace Plan for a Safer America” save lives in Monterey County? Yes – if we have the political will to demand our leaders make it the law of the land.
JOHN CORK is an award-winning screenwriter and documentary filmmaker. He is a member of Monterey County Moms Demand Action.