By Susan Taylor
It’s been a month now since the deadliest mass shooting in American history on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It stunned the nation, sparked vigils and marches, inspired newspaper editorials and letters to the editor, and promoted lawmakers to vow to do something.
On Sunday, Nov. 12, from 2:30-4 p.m., an alliance to prevent gun violence will gather in the private backroom at Eclipse Chocolate, located at 2145 Fern St. in South Park, to discuss mass shootings, suicide and accidental deaths, as well as try to come up with possible actions for change.
The public is invited to share their thoughts. There is no fee to attend.
The alliance matches the San Diego chapters of two activist groups: the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Together, they participate in events such as EarthFair in Balboa Park, meet with legislators, speak out, and educate.
San Diego Brady counts some 600 people on its email list and about 30 dedicated members who have organized meetings with the Girl Scouts, local PTA groups, college districts, and most recently, a meeting with San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten.
“It’s the best thing we’ve done in San Diego,” said Vicki Chin, San Diego Brady treasurer. Indeed, San Diego Brady and the board of education approved the mailing of hundreds of packets for school parents to learn about the Asking Saves Kids (ASK) and Speak Up causes.
ASK is a simple acronym with a powerful message. The idea is that when kids go to play at a neighbor’s house, parents should inquire as to whether there is an unlocked gun in the home. While a majority of adults think that their gun is in a well-hidden place, studies have shown that curious children will find them, and tragically, 100 children younger than 17 die from guns annually. Another 400 children younger than 17 die from suicide by gunfire every year.
And yet, many parents fear that asking about guns will offend their neighbors. Speak Up allows middle and high school students to call an anonymous number to report a suspected gun threat at school, and Moms Demand Action similarly promote Be Smart, an age-appropriate educational tool for adults to teach about the dangers of handling guns.
ASK and other gun-violence-related topics will be discussed at Eclipse on Nov. 12. Organizers plan to hand out postcards for participants to write to local public officials to increase attention to the need for safe cities, streets, schools and neighborhoods. Food, beverages, and chocolate desserts will be available to sweeten the discourse.
So if the headline “The deadliest mass shooting in America” didn’t grab you or has blended into old sound bites, consider sitting in on the meeting and adding your voice. Only by learning and acting can citizens keep gun violence in our sights and lead to a better future.
For more information, visit BradyCampaignSD.org.
— Susan Taylor is a freelance writer, activist and volunteer, and a retired teacher from North Park.