An end to violence
Chico State senior starts a campus club focused on putting a stop to senseless shootings
It took only milliseconds for a man to murder Christian Heyne’s mother. He simply aimed a gun at her head and fired.
On their way home from vacation in 2005, Heyne’s parents stopped to visit a family friend. A man the friend was having a disagreement with showed up and shot and killed both him and Heyne’s mother, Janice. Heyne’s father, Timothy, was also shot three times. The gunman went on to shoot two more people and pistol-whip two children before turning the gun on himself. Heyne’s parents were not involved in the dispute. They just happened to be there when the man arrived with a gun.
“People said they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Heyne said. “But the fact of the matter is there is no right place. There is no right time.”
Heyne’s mother was murdered in Walnut Creek, one of the safest cities in the United States.
“If gun violence can happen there, it can happen anywhere,” he said.
In hopes of sparing others the pain of losing loved ones to gun violence, Heyne, a Chico State senior, is starting a university-affiliated chapter of the Brady Campaign. The Chico State chapter is the only one in the nation currently based on a university campus.
Working with the Brady Campaign is a family affair for the Heynes. Timothy has been working with the group since shortly after the shooting, and is currently president of the Ventura County chapter.
The Brady Campaign was started 25 years ago by Jim and Sarah Brady (for whom the Brady Bill, which established a waiting period to buy guns, was named). An aide to Ronald Reagan, Jim Brady was shot in an assassination attempt on the president. The Brady Campaign became the largest gun-control advocacy group in 2001 after merging with the Million Mom March.
The chapter recently gained club recognition by Associated Students and held its first meeting at Woodstock’s Pizza March 12. Heyne had only expected about five people to show up, but nearly 30 people filled the restaurant.
The large turnout is promising, given that the group’s first event, planned for April, will require at least that many participants. The month of April has special significance to those campaigning for gun control. This year it will mark both the nine-year anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre and the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting.
On April 16 the group will hold a “lie-in” in the Free Speech Area on Chico State’s campus. Thirty-two students wearing black T-shirts will lie down for three minutes, symbolizing the amount of time it took Virginia Tech shooter Seng-Hui Cho to buy the gun he used to kill 32 students and wound many more before committing suicide.
While the lie-in will focus primarily on preventing gun violence at schools and universities, the club plans to target removing the threat of guns in every aspect of life.
“We want to be able to walk, work and take care of our families without worrying about someone pulling out a gun and taking it all away within a millisecond,” Heyne said.
The club’s goal is not to infringe on Second Amendment rights, but to take guns out of the hands of criminals.
“Our goal is not to take guns away from responsible people, but to prevent violence,” Heyne said. “If the group can save a single life, then everything we’ve done will have been worth it.”