Mar 16, 2018
by Thomas Martin
At 10 a.m. March 14 students, faculty, and staff walked out of Sonoma Valley High School to protest gun violence in schools and express condolences for the 17 victims and wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Each victim was recognized by the tolling of their names. This was followed by chants calling for the end of gun violence in schools. Sonoma Valley High School joined with hundreds of other high schools, middle schools, and colleges across the country demanding tougher gun laws to stamp out violence. In California over 150 schools joined in the national protest including UC and CSU campuses.
While students rallied on the westside of Broadway, Sonoma parents and residents joined the protest on the east side of Hwy. 12. People will recall that student upheaval was a major factor in the 60’s and 70’s. Those protests led to the passage of civil rights legislation and the curtailment of the Vietnam War.
On Saturday morning in mid-March 200 residents gathered at the Hanna Boys Center to hear Congressman Mike Thompson chastise the gun lobby and press for greater background checks on gun purchasers. Congressman Thompson and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) have introduced a bill, HR 4230, that would provide grants to states to establish systems of background checks on “all commercial firearm sales, including those at gun shows, over the internet and in classified ads.” Reportedly over 200 members of the House of Representatives have signed on in support of HR 4240. Even so, the NRA has been able to block hearings on the bill and prevent any votes for gun control legislation. The NRA muscle extends to the White House where representatives meet with the President regularly.
Local residents lined up on either side of the room at Hanna to speak on the gun issue. Sonoma Valley High School students Ellie Bon and Lauren Worrona called upon people to “Speak Out! Tell everyone you know how important this is to you.”
Thompson noted that the youth movement may accomplish what adults have failed to do. He listed several high schools where he recently spoke and said the mood was hopeful that gun controls will be forthcoming.
Since the shootings in Florida, Thompson has spoken at schools from Napa to Newark asking help to end school and community gun violence. On March 12 Cong. Rho Khanna, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr, and Thompson addressed Newark students about the need for outlawing weapons, especially military weapons. Thompson told the students of his sad experience at theYountville Old Soldiers Home where three women were murdered by a veteran suffering from PTSD. In addition to states like California, where the voting age is 18, young folks will soon be at the polls. Their influence on the outcome will be carefully studied.
Data supports the ideas in the Thompson-King bill. The Giffords Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence reports that from 2009-2012 states with background checks had 35% fewer gun deaths. Further, GLC found that states with background checks on all handgun sales had 52% fewer mass shootings, 63% fewer mass shootings by people forbidden from possessing firearms, and 64% fewer mass shootings involving domestic violence cases. The Giffords Law Center is founded by Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, herself a gun victim.
Citizens at the Hanna meeting seemed nearly unanimous – the only way to change the minds of recalcitrant legislators is to give them “political heat!”
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