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We are the members of Zach Hilton’s Student City Council Internship Program. We represent different genders, cultures and backgrounds. We are the first generation. Most importantly, we represent a demographic of the crippingly underserved. 

We have come to let our written words lay bare, so the dreams of the youth of this city no longer fall on deaf ears. Since the 2019 mass casualty event in Gilroy, gun violence has not been a major priority as we have been unwilling to make changes. With the shooting at Oxford High School, in which four teenagers have passed through death’s door, we feel as if the memories of our recent past have gone up in smoke. We have replaced policy with patriotism and activism for agitprop, and we shall tolerate it no longer. 

As interns, we frequently watch through old meetings in order to gain information. We came across a Gilroy City Council meeting in March where the topic of Safe Storage (making it mandatory for guns to be locked in a secure location or have a trigger lock) was brought up. The discussion around the Oxford High School shooting was that the gun was not secured in a place or locked in any fashion, making it basically free to use at any point. We thought it was important to contextualize certain arguments from members running for re-election.

The argument that was raised by Councilmembers Dion Bracco, Peter Leroe-Munoz and Carol Marques (among others) was the fact that we already have laws in California. While this is true, this does not mean that we have to sit back and watch. After all, if the laws in our state already tell us what we need to do, we would have no need for a city council.

Four teenagers died in Michigan, and six have died in our community in 2021 alone because of this inaction. It does no harm to enforce the safe storage of these deadly firearms, whereas irreversible harm is done without action.

The first argument when the Safe Storage of Firearms Ordinance was proposed came from Councilmember Bracco. He asserted that “Firearms do not cause suicides.” This is completely false. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of suicides in the United States are done with firearms, an average of 64 deaths a day. On top of that, he felt the need to share that bikes kill more children than guns do. The invalidation of the horrific, and very real, effects of gun violence could not be more clear. These lives were lost due to traffic accidents, not biker incompetence. What Bracco also forgets to mention is that there are laws for bikes from the state and city level to keep people safe. Why is it so hard to try to want the same for firearms?

Councilmember Leroe-Munoz highlighted his position of not wanting to see anyone harmed due to violence. These words have only provided a cold comfort to the stale arguments presented. Councilmember Leroe-Munoz mentions mental health on numerous occasions, yet advocates for police officers in schools. He mentions reviving from a pandemic, but refuses to acknowledge the urgency and importance of firearm safety as the issue of gun violence is only growing post-pandemic.

Councilmember Carol Marques and Mayor Marie Blankley both made similar arguments when presented with the topic of stronger gun control, one of which being that the ordinance is unenforceable. This was their attempt to try and prove that it would be of no legitimate help to implement it.

Every form of preventable gun violence is due to one singular firearm. Safely storing that one firearm can single-handedly save numerous lives. If this ordinance effectively locks up even one firearm, that is one potential danger to children and citizens alike that has been removed.

Whoever you are, wherever you are: this proposal is not about logic. This is not about the Constitution or political parties, but about the lives of our loved ones. We are not trying to take away your beloved guns, we are trying to make sure someone does not end up on the wrong side of it. Studies show that people who have more barriers in their way when doing tasks concerning their safety make more rational decisions. Giving people time to think before pressing the trigger is all we are asking. Someone who is under mental stress may be unable to make that choice for themselves. 

Human lives are in jeopardy here, and it is in your very power to help save them. Ultimately, we are playing chicken against nature, and nature always wins.

Naka Elelleh and Arpinder Kaur are students in Gilroy. Comments? Feel free to reach out to [email protected] and [email protected].

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