If you have become exhausted by the news, disgusted by the vitriol flowing out of the president’s prolific Twitter pen, and frustrated by what pass for “policy” announcements that upend what we thought were Constitutional guarantees, there is an antidote: Work to better your community.
Our neighbors can be more important in our daily lives than inane pronouncements from the White House. The administration will eventually be history, but our community is our home.
I came to this decision after reading “Call to Arms” by Bradley Zeve in the Weekly on Nov. 8, 2018. Focusing on sensible gun control laws following a string of mass shootings (long before those in Dayton, El Paso and Gilroy), Zeve also recounted verbal attacks against the Weekly’s editorial staff. Hate, the article suggested, creates an atmosphere that can fuel gun violence. Zeve called for a Common Sense Manifesto for Community Safety, and invited us to join. I did.
With my colleague Wendy Root Askew, I began organizing the Monterey County presence of Moms Demand Action, one of the largest and most effective organizations in the country dedicated to the passage of sensible gun laws and public education on gun safety. With over 6 million volunteers in 50 states and in most California counties, Moms Demand Action has assembled data showing that the problem of gun violence involving children is far greater than people realize.
Mass shootings receive a lot of publicity, as they should, but we have learned that gun-related deaths are far more likely to occur as a result of unsafely stored firearms in the home. Accidental firearm access is the second leading cause of death in children under 16; the 600-plus teenage suicides that occur every year are most often achieved through firearms found unsecured in the home. California’s strict gun laws require that trigger locks must be sold with every new gun purchased, but studies suggest that only 10 percent of gun owners actually use them. Over 4 million children in the U.S. live in homes with multiple firearms, many of which are unsecured.
Enter the BE SMART campaign, a public education program designed for parents, school boards, physicians, law enforcement, gun owners, anyone who cares about gun safety. Many lives can be saved, and tragedies averted, via public education. Our Monterey County BE SMART initiative will be introduced on Sept. 16 with State Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and Assemblymember Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley. U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, will be represented by a senior staffer. It is an open forum and everyone is invited.
This is about our backyard. We need to try every day to make it safer, more humane, more representative of our values, so we can be proud to be a part of it. We can direct our energy to our community. I guarantee you, it will work.