Rudy Espinoza Murray column

I have had two close encounters with gun violence in my life. One was when I was 15 years old. While house-sitting for my grandparents, my uncle and his then-girlfriend got into an altercation that led to him calling the police. The police arrived and banged on the front door within a few minutes. And when I opened the door, a police officer pointed a gun just inches away from my forehead. In response, my hands went up in the air very quickly. That image has never left my mind.

Over the past two weeks, America has been in mourning for the taking of innocent lives because hate and guns came together. This is not normal. A hundred people die every day in the U.S., and hundreds more are injured daily. More than 1,000 kids are killed every year because guns were not properly stored by parents, family members or friends. As a Moms Demand Action volunteer, I have spent the last few years advocating for commonsense gun laws that respect responsible ownership while protecting people from needless gun violence.

Most recently, in Buffalo, New York, we saw what happens when white supremacy is armed. Innocent Black lives were taken simply for being Black. The East Palo Alto community is in mourning in our own backyard, and our children are forever impacted by a shooting in one of our parks. Andrea Reyna, a school teacher in the Ravenswood City School District, said, “At what point did my body become a live shield?” Guns make hate deadly.

Thoughts and prayers clearly get us nowhere. Neither does the gun lobby’s relentless “guns everywhere” agenda. We have more than 400 million guns in the United States — that’s more guns than people. Yet, we have more gun deaths per capita than any other developed nation globally. More guns don’t make us safer — and that’s a fact.

Some of you may be thinking of “gun control.” But gun ownership has been part of American culture since its birth. It is codified into our very foundation. If we want to move the needle, we must focus on evidence-based solutions to decrease gun deaths. We should be advocating for gun safety and responsible gun ownership so that more gun owners join the movement for a safer America.

Latinx communities bear a disproportionate brunt of the United States’ gun violence crisis. Each year, more than 4,100 Latinx people are killed by gun violence, and over 13,000 more are wounded. Latinx people are twice as likely to die by gun homicide and four times as likely to be injured by an assault with a gun as white people. Latinx children and teens are three times more likely to be killed by gun homicide than white peers.

In California, we have the strictest gun laws, but they’re only as strong as the laws of our neighboring states. We need sweeping change that leaves gun ownership to responsible folks and out of the hands of those who may harm someone or themselves. We need to expand background checks and provide the resources to do so. We need to ban ghost guns. We need to hold the gun industry accountable. We need to keep the gun lobby out of our politics. We need our electeds to work for us. We need to communicate the options people have to report dangerous behavior, like gun violence restraining orders, so that any guns can be temporarily removed if someone is in danger of harming themselves or others. We need violent criminals banned from ever owning a firearm. We need to teach our parents how to safely store guns and how to ask that others do the same. We need to keep guns out of the hands of children.

There is no one solution to this uniquely American problem. We need to attack this from all sides, but history will repeat itself without political will. We cannot accept a reality in which our children aren’t safe in schools or their communities. We need more than thoughts and prayers from lawmakers; we demand action now.

Want to join the movement against gun violence? Text ‘ACT’ to 64433.

Don’t forget to vote in the June 7 primary. Candidates that have received the Gun Sense Candidate Distinction from Moms Demand Action are Anna Eshoo, Emily Beach, James Coleman, Giselle Hale and Virginia Chang Kiraly.

Rudy Espinoza Murray is a father, husband, Redwood City resident and community organizer. He is currently the CA Moms Demand Action spokesperson. All opinions are his own.

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(11) comments

willallen

"Thoughts and prayers get us nowhere." Along with action, they are a powerful force. Christ has no hands but yours. For starters, let's think less about buying a gun (we live in a time of "choice") and more about limiting use to the military. Forget that "minuteman" stuff.

Tommy Tee

Truth. Cancun Cruz and his thoughts and prayers are shallow at best. Politicians like him are the real problem. The NRA has them in their pockets. Here's a few examples of how much politicians have been paid off by the NRA:

Romney: $13,647,676

Burr: $6,987,380

Blunt: $4,555,722

Rubio: $3,303,355

The list goes on and on. It's no wonder.

They don't represent the people.

Terence Y

And yet, Chuck Schumer just blocked a school safety bill. Who is Schumer representing? Sounds like politics is more important to Schumer than our kids. If Schumer’s fellow Democrats don’t do anything, I guess they feel the same.

Barb Valley

As I told you earlier this morning, the school Safety bill to which you are referring was simply to create a clearing house of school safety suggestions. Perhaps Cruz's one door in and out would have been included.

Terence Y

Barb, as I asked you this morning, what’s the issue with a clearinghouse of best practices? Before you answer, you may want to look up the definition of best practices since you mistakenly believe they’re only suggestions. If Cruz’s one door in and one door out is a best practice, then by all means it should be included. Without this clearinghouse, others may never know if the practice is effective. BTW, should we assume you prefer doing nothing about school safety until a universal background check bill is passed? For Schumer that’s the point. Politics before kids.

Dirk van Ulden

TT - i am not surprised that you could not find any Democrat politicians who took money from the NRA. While I am not a member, millions of folks of any political orientation are members. Who exactly are the people who are not represented?

willallen

Better check out the Romney figure, which apparently came from anti-gun group that confused overall amount with just Romney. Salt Lake Trib says he received zip from NRA.

Terence Y

Mr. Murray – perhaps you can text Chuck Schumer, since he just blocked a school safety bill from Republicans and the families of the Parkland School shooting. Can we count on Schumer to accept a reality in which our children aren’t safe in schools or their communities? Apparently not. Can we count on Schumer’s fellow Democrats to change his mind? We’ll see.

Barb Valley

The Luke and Alex School Safety Act would do nothing more than create a clearing house for info on school safety. I'd rather Universal background checks.

Terence Y

What is the problem with a clearinghouse on school safety? The clearinghouse would provide school safety best practices and recommendations instead of the existing patchwork of practices (assuming all schools have one and whether they’ve been evaluated to be effective). Missouri allows teachers to carry concealed guns. Aren’t you interested in the metrics of how often these concealed weapons are used? Whether there are any active shooter incidents or violence at these schools? How Missouri is implanting the program? Or are you saying that you’d prefer to do nothing and would rather sit for who knows how long in attempting to pass a universal background check bill? Schumer is treating the Safety Act bill more as a bargaining chip instead of helping to keep our kids safe. It appears Schumer values politics over school safety.

craigwiesner

Thank you for this thoughtful column, and especially for a clear call to action for folks who want to get involved in making things change.

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