The shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival was a horrific tragedy. The loss of life, the injuries, the trauma, the impact on so many for what will be surely be so long is tremendously dispiriting.
There are bright spots such as the community coming together in support and the quick thinking and action of police to prevent it from being so much worse. Yet the shooting is emblematic of a larger, deeper and what is seemingly an inexorable issue facing our nation for decades now. Mass shootings have not gone away, they now happen with more and more frequency. Our children do drills for fires, intruders and active shooters. We no longer feel completely comfortable in public spaces because an active shooter situation could literally happen anywhere at anytime.
The quick action of law enforcement when there was a shooting at The Shops at Tanforan July 2 reveals there is no room for question how serious a situation is before there is a large-scale response.
Mass shootings have happened at schools, a movie theater, churches, temples, a newsroom, a municipal building, night clubs, bars, a music concert, a video game competition, restaurants, a veterans home, businesses, a hospital, supermarkets, airports, a health clinic, a community center, a military base, a postal facility and countless other places. Each shooting ripples through families and communities for years. This is one of the tragedies of our times.
In Gilroy, the security was tight and the police presence and their quick response prevented what was sure to be a more widespread tragedy. The gunman was stopped within a minute after shooting started. What happened was horrible, yet it could have been much much worse.
The response after the incident has been about the same as it is for every other mass shooting. There are calls for more gun control, condolences, support, hand-wringing and a large amount of concern with varied opinions on what should or should not happen. Some commentary has focused on how if there were open carry folk there, it would have prevented the incident from occurring. I could see how someone could think that, if there are people with guns everywhere it might prevent someone with a gun from trying to shoot people. But in reality, this is an awful idea. Police trained to use guns prevented the incident from being worse. Shooting is a skill that degrades quickly without target practice and police are required to take it. While there are surely non-professionals who can shoot on target, that is likely the outlier. In reality, more people would likely be hurt.
But it goes to show that there is a wide range of thoughts on what to do about mass shootings. Some say more gun control is the answer, others say more guns are the answer. It’s really not that simple. There is something else happening here. Guns are a tool, however, they are not necessarily the sole reason and their removal may not be the complete solution.
Mental health is certainly a factor, and more should be done to address mental health issues early on and remove the stigma of it for countless Americans of all political stripes and all backgrounds. Drug use and abuse might be another factor. Misdiagnosed issues and prescription or illicit drugs can change a personality and deepen a mental health crisis. The changing family dynamic and the overuse of video games or the internet could also be a contributing factor. While many can play video games or use the internet heavily without negative effect, it may have different impacts on different people. And then there are guns and the ability for people to get them easily. Common-sense gun control includes background checks, firearm licenses and registration, age limits, wait times and bans of assault-style weapons. While California has the nation’s most stringent measures, those laws did not prevent the shooting in Gilroy in part because the weapons were purchased out of state. This is an issue to solve.
Opinions vary about solutions, and that is natural. I certainly don’t purport to have the answer. But why not look at every possible solution?
We get into trouble as a society when we lock ourselves into certain channels of thinking without bending to another point of view. If someone says gun control is the solution, perhaps there are some details that might work for all. If someone says gun control is not the solution, perhaps they have some theories worth exploring. We should be studying this from all sides, and exploring all solutions from mental health, drug use, media usage and reasonable gun law changes that do not infringe on the Second Amendment. The circumstances are too dire and the alternative, which is nothing, is simply not acceptable.
Jon Mays is the editor in chief of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmays.