The gun! Go get the gun!” Hearing my mother yell this is one of my earliest memories.
I remember that it was nighttime. My mother desperately pressed her weight against the front door of our triplex, trying to keep intruders at bay. The belligerents were a woman and whoever she had with her. They were trying to attack my mother, most likely over something petty. That is often the cause of violence in poor communities. My mother was overwhelmed and outnumbered. She had four young children inside and but no man with her. This was a sign of weakness to the invaders outside. “Go get the gun!” is what she yelled to my older brother as hands were creeping in just beyond the door. Hearing her command, they quickly retreated.
It was a bluff on my mother’s part. We had no gun in the house. But the attacker’s didn’t know that and didn’t want to find out. The threat was enough to stop the assault. Being armed or the threat of being armed made the difference. This would not be the only time being armed made a difference in dealing with would be attackers in my life.
I’m a registered Democrat and a Progressive. I was a delegate at the national democratic convention for Bernie Sanders in 2016. I’m also a gun owner and strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. The debate regarding gun control in this nation has become politicized along party lines on a national level. As a Mexican and Chicano activist living in one of America’s most dangerous cities, Stockton, California, it’s not a matter of debate. It’s a necessity. In fact, from my perspective, the debate amongst hypocritical politicians and people who live securely is a luxury. It is one that I, and so many others, can’t afford.
There are many reasons I support the 2nd Amendment. The most pressing being where I live. Stockton is where the first mass shooting of school children occurred in 1989. A lone, white gunman armed with an AK-47 walked onto an elementary school campus and began shooting Southeast Asian children and then killed himself. The attack at Cleveland Elementary prompted a weapons ban of assault rifles in California. What it did not address was the racism that may have motivated the attack.
Despite passing additional taxes to hire more officers, the police department is overwhelmed and consistently requests help from outside agencies. They can’t even respond expeditiously to the attempted shootings because they’re so occupied with drive-by shooting that where people are shot, injured and killed.