Gun Violence in the “Safest City in the America”: The Heartbreak in Thousand Oaks, CA

Earlier this year, there was a shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people. They were both students and faculty. Many believed it would be the wakeup call that America needed. However, it ended up being a tragedy that split America apart. In the United States, the debate on gun control is a very sensitive topic. The opposition claim that the supporters are trying to take away their second amendment right.  It becomes a debate between mental health and gun control when in actuality they are two sides of the same coin. 

307 mass shootings in 311 days. This is not acceptable. Every month, we are horrified with another shooting killing innocent people. On Wednesday night, 12 people died in Thousand Oaks at The Borderline Bar and Grill, a lively spot for students, on College Night. Many others were injured. The Borderline Bar and Grill hosts a College Night every Wednesday and is usually populated with Pepperdine, Cal Lutheran, Moorpark College, and Cal State Channel Islands students. Students as young as 18 were at the bar. They are famous for their line-dancing lessons and 21st birthday celebrations. On this night, two patrons were reportedly celebrating theirs. 

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A place of fun and unity has become home to massacre. 12 people are never coming home from that bar. Parents surrounded the bar hoping to see their children walk out safely; however, this is a reality that the parents of those 12 will not experience. Fathers and mothers lost a son or daughter. Cal Lutheran and Pepperdine lost students and graduates. There are students who will never graduate. Once the victims are identified they are not just names in a press release, they are real people with real lives. Lives they will never be able to live out. 

The shooter, Ian David Long, is a former U.S. Marine machine gunner. According to many reports, he could have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. Before he opened fire, he threw three smoke bombs into the bar. 

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It's time to come together. We cannot allow for one more senseless death to occur. By freeing ourselves from ignorance, we are saving ourselves from suffering. Time and time again, the shooters are labeled as mentally ill. By doing this, many believe that it solves the problem and don’t take further action. When it happens again, the cycle begins again. The common denominator of all these shooting is that each one is preventable with sensible gun control. If mental illness is the problem, then gun control should include additional mental health screenings. However, this step never gets fulfilled to fruition. 

This is no longer a tragedy that is across the country. It is right here in California in Ventura county. No one is safe from gun violence. Thousand Oaks is famously referred to as the “safest city in America”, yet tragedy is still present. Gun violence is not only a problem in America, but an epidemic.  How can we resist evil when it is everywhere we turn? 

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In a Facebook post, California’s Governor-elect, Gavin Newsom, released a statement that read: “The gun violence that continues to plague our nation is beyond heartbreaking -- it's a societal failure. Simply saying, ‘enough is enough,’ is NOT enough. We must address the root causes of these devastating acts at every level of government.”

Students don’t have feel safe in classrooms, synagogues, churches, supermarkets, bars, and more. The list is becoming quite extensive. We are not safe. Today, we mourn and tomorrow we fight for gun reform. Am I next? A question asked by thousands of students across the country. We are living in a different time. A discussion needs to be had. Details will unravel over the next few days, but for now we need to make sure this doesn't’ become just another shooting added to a long list. 

The HerCampus UCSB team sends our love and solidarity to the victims along with the victim's friends and family during this difficult time.

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