Information is strength when it comes to the issue of gun violence

By Kelly Ramirez

Kelly Ramirez

According to the Gun Violence Archive, between Jan. 1, 2019 and Aug. 3, 2019, less than one week after the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting, there were 250 mass shootings in the United States. Breaking that down further, that’s 250 mass shootings in 215 days — averaging more than 1 mass shooting in the United States per day.

But what exactly is a mass shooting? There is no “fixed” definition, but generally speaking, a shooting is referred to as a “mass shooting” when four or more fatalities, other than the shooter, occur in one incident (excluding domestic violence, gang shootings or terrorist acts). So, with that definition, the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival was not considered a mass shooting, and as such, was not included in the statistic above.

As a survivor of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting, I beg to differ.

I have never been good at estimating numbers in a crowd, but I would say with absolute certainty that a mass amount of people ran for their lives on that fateful afternoon. A mass amount of people feared for their lives. A mass amount of people feared for the lives of their loved ones. And a mass amount of people continues to work through the grieving and healing process.

As our community works through the healing process following the horrific shooting event at last year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival, a group of community members, who I am a part of, are educating ourselves about the issue of gun violence and connecting with other resources to explore ways we can become engaged.

And we have learned much.

One of the most frightening things we’ve learned about are “ghost guns” or “80 percent lowers.” These are guns that are easily built at home, using tools that can be purchased at any local home improvement store.

All a person needs to do is go online, purchase the kits that make the lower 80 percent of a gun, watch any number of videos found online, go back online and purchase the remaining, unregulated parts of a gun, and finish it off.

And now you have a fully functional gun. A gun that is not registered. A gun that does not have a serial number. And a gun owner that has not been required to have a background check. Oftentimes these guns are found in possession of those involved in criminal activities.

And gun violence is not limited to mass shootings. Everyday occurrences include suicides, domestic violence and urban violence.

And while we have found more hurdles than solutions, we continue to educate ourselves, meet with elected officials and research existing resources. One such resource, Moms Demand Action, is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence.

Like so many resources and organizations, Moms Demand Action was founded after another horrific mass shooting.

The day after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 elementary school age children and six adults were killed, Shannon Watts, a mother of five, started a Facebook group with the message that all Americans can and should do something to reduce gun violence. This online conversation turned into a movement that works with other partners in the gun violence prevention movement.

Please join us Saturday, Feb. 29, at Gavilan Community College, Social Science Room 214 beginning at 10:30 a.m., where we will have a member of the San Jose chapter of Moms Demand Action present on their mission, their programs and how we, as community members, can become engaged.

Information is strength … let’s start here!

Kelly Ramirez is a Gilroy resident leading the #BuildGilroyStrong Movement.

Marty Cheek