Guns and curfews

Mass shootings, a divisive president and a nonstarter local law

As much as I may have tried to unplug while on a recent vacation, I couldn’t escape the awful news about the mass shooting at Gilroy’s annual Garlic Festival. Three dead, including two children, one of them a year younger than my own child.

Shortly after I returned from the coast, two more shootings. At least 31 people shot to death in a 24-hour period. One slaying took place in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on Saturday morning. The other at a bar in Dayton, Ohio, in the wee hours of the next morning.

After learning about the Texas massacre, and with my husband and son out of town for the day, I crawled back into bed and stayed there for hours. Like other Americans, I feel helpless and hopeless when it comes to gun violence and the rise in intolerance.

This is the ugliest and most divisive period in the nation in my lifetime. Credit goes to our commander-in-chief, a hate-mongering xenophobe. His rise to power has only triggered his worst impulses and the worst impulses of the racists he’s inspired through his irresponsible, bigoted rhetoric, such as the countless times he’s referred to asylum-seekers as invaders.

In May, when a Trump rally attendee said Border Patrol agents should shoot undocumented immigrants, Trump cracked a sick joke: “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that stuff,” he quipped. “Only in the Panhandle.”

Keep in mind that the person in the crowd cried out “shoot them!” only after Trump referred to other countries allowing violence to keep immigrants at bay.

Meanwhile, nary a Republican in Congress has the stomach or the spine to bring back the ban on assault weapons, as Rep. John Garamendi mentions in this week’s guest commentary. Common-sense laws to rein in the proliferation of military-style weapons should not be a partisan issue. Nor should climate change, health care, immigration and the many other crises facing the nation.

Lead balloon I got back in town just as the agenda for the Chico City Council’s Tuesday meeting was posted. The biggest item was the potential adoption of an ordinance allowing the city to declare a curfew in such cases that PG&E shuts off the grid as a fire-prevention measure.

Chico Police Chief Mike O’Brien’s plan is to prohibit and/or restrict people from gathering or traveling in specific public spaces when PG&E turns off the power for days on end.

I think I understand the chief’s concerns about such a scenario. From his public-safety lens, it’s unnerving to think about the town going dark. However, the idea went over like a lead balloon. For numerous reasons, not a single public speaker supported it (see Ashiah Scharaga’s report on page 11).

From my perspective, the lack of transparency was a main factor. Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jared drafted the potential law sans direction from the council—the policy-making body—and it was placed on the agenda as an emergency ordinance.

Given the controversial nature of the plan—and the fact that the ordinance wasn’t vetted publicly prior to Jared spending time (read: taxpayer funds) to create it—it was pretty much a nonstarter. The only surprise here is that O’Brien and Jared thought it would fly.