While political leadership has been predominantly liberal for at least a decade now in Ventura County, the call to end gun violence and advocate for stronger gun control has been rather muted over the years, having been boiled down to routine gang activity and domestic incidents. With the tragedy at Borderline Bar and Grill in November, however, came a predictable outpouring of passion and anger over the proliferation of guns and a surge of ideas for preventing mass shootings and bringing a halt to gun violence by limiting access.
Shortly after Borderline in December, three of five supervisors of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in a regular meeting advocated for the end of gun shows at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. The Ventura County Fairgrounds board voted, 5-2, to allow two gun shows a year. (Two board members were absent.) On Tuesday, Jan. 8, the Oxnard City Council also discussed support for the end of gun shows at the fairgrounds along with extending a moratorium on the establishment of new gun retailers within city limits. The City Council voted to move forward with a formal agenda item on Feb. 5 to vote on whether or not to send a letter to the fairgrounds board expressing opposition. The City Council also voted unanimously to extend for eight months a moratorium on allowing any new gun retailers in city limits.
There is much to consider when advocating for limiting access to guns in Ventura County.
While attending any gun show at the fairgrounds, perceivably, the usual suspects are often hunters, gun collectors, target practice aficionados, etc. These gun shows don’t necessarily attract common criminals looking to commit murder or those desiring to commit suicide — and it’s not clear that there is any evidence that shows anything other than a group of attendees looking to build their collections for whatever legal personal purpose. Retail gun stores, on other hand, bring in a plethora of people — mainly the same sort of people as gun shows, but there are others who may be visiting and purchasing for more nefarious reasons. It is important to clarify the difference between those who appreciate and respect the Second Amendment and those who abuse the privilege with dire consequences. Truth be told, any study may conclude that both gun control and access restrictions can result in both positive, negative or neutral outcomes, depending on which metrics are used.
There is a common-sense perspective, however, about limiting access to guns in an effort to decrease lives cut short by gun violence.
For instance, when looking at the decrease in the suicide rate in England in the mid-20th century, placing blame on an intangible object seemed fair. When England changed from coal gas ovens to natural gas, the suicide rate dropped significantly due to the lack of lethal carbon monoxide levels from the coal that would easily wipe out life if exposed to the odors long enough. In the same vein, limiting the number of guns available for purchase could have the same effect. There are any number of studies that would attest and refute the claim, but that is at the cost of responsible gun owners who have anything but murder and mayhem on the mind. Striking a practical balance, not just one based on fear, is critical. Further, disabling access legally could boost black market sales and high-risk criminal activity. Respect goes both ways.
Even in a community where one can find polarizing views, we hope that there is a middle ground of common good that can be mutually agreed upon. Unfortunately, if we only push radical all-or-nothing agendas, the pendulum is bound to swing the other way, as history has demonstrated. We did, after all, swing from President Barack Obama to President Donald Trump. Surely, there is a better way.