As I See It – Gun violence: After the lull, the storm

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At least there’s one good deed for the corona virus: Temporary drop of gun violence!

In 2020, during the pandemic, the crime incidents involving guns were down… well, temporarily!

Yes… the relief was short-lived. The number of homicides sharply decreased in numerous countries, including the US, during the early months of the coronavirus shutdown. A recent research brief from the United Nations- Office on Drugs and Crime (UN-ODC) concluded, according to an article written by Antonia Noori Farzan, that “any significant changes were short-lived and pre-pandemic dynamics soon returned.”

The research further attests that “While COVID-related restrictions may have temporarily suppressed homicide rates, the pandemic has placed individuals and institutions under tremendous strain, ultimately pushing homicide rates higher,” also a recent report from the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice and Arnold Ventures, which corroborated the UN-ODC) report. 

A monthly analysis of researchers’ crime data from 21 countries found “the majority did experience a significant drop in the number of homicide victims during March and April of 2020.” However, by the summer, the number of victims was back to usual. “That trend proved true in some European countries, including Italy and Spain, where homicides are more frequently linked to domestic violence, and in Latin American nations, including Colombia and Guatemala, where the rates are higher and often linked to organized crime,” the report said.

The US was not an exception! Only recently, here in San Jose, a mass shooting in San Jose that killed nine Valley Transportation Authority employees and also left the gunman dead when he killed himself now has the notorious distinction of being the Bay Area’s deadliest gun massacre in history. 

Sam James Cassidy, 57, the attacker who killed himself after police started to question him, was found to be a hot-tempered, bipolar VTA worker, who had long complained about his job and had at least two ended relationships. 

He barged into a morning meeting on Wednesday and used three weapons to fire off 39 bullets to kill people he had worked with. According to the Santa Clara County Sheriff, when authorities confronted him, he took his own life.

Last year, there was an increase in gun sales, which experts attribute the rise to shootings, adding up to stress over unemployment during the lockdown, and police departments unable to implement anti-violence programs because of COVID.

A database compiled by The Associated Press shows that USA Today and Northeastern University, agencies that tracks every mass killing over the last 15 years, indicated that San Jose has 15 mass killing so far in 2021, all of them shootings. 

After these incidents, people started to call for gun control reform, which gesture is sometimes overlooked and not pursued.

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, in reference to the VTA shooting, called for nationwide gun reform through the passing of “commonsense gun laws.” At a news conference this week, Newsom said: “There’s a numbness I imagine some of us are feeling about this because there’s a sameness to this. Anywhere, USA.”

He continued: “It just feels like this happens over and over and over again. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat,” Newsom said. “Here we are, in the United States of America where we’re experiencing something that’s just not experienced anywhere else in the world. There’s a sameness to this and that numbness is something that I think we’re all feeling.”

Maybe, there should be stricter requirements in acquiring guns to prevent these incidents to happening. I would say, there should be stricter background check for prospective buyers which touches on their character and behavior. If they have previous records or hot-tempered attitude or unstable temperament or suffering from mental health, then they should not be approved to buy guns.

While the gunman of the VTA massacre acquired his guns legally, police investigators revealed that he had previous records of ill-temperament, vengeance, unstable behavior, etc. Had they checked on these before buying, that must have prevented the massacre. 

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As people are still grieving due to the death of their family members who died during the VTA massacre, police arrested two suspects in connection with a fatal shooting in San Jose on Thursday, not far from last week’s massacre at the VTA rail yard.

According to police, officers responded to the area of North San Pedro and Hedding Streets around 1:50 p.m. and found a man suffering from at least one gunshot wound. Officers attempted life saving measures, but the victim was declared dead at the scene by paramedics.

The suspects, identified as 43-year-old Eric Zarate and 34-year-old Michael Herrera, were booked into the Santa Clara County Jail.

KPIX reporter Len Ramirez said the shooting happened around a parked Mercedes on San Pedro Street. At least two shots hit the car, and an unknown number struck a man who was standing on the other side, killing him on the sidewalk.

For the second week in a row, county workers were ordered to shelter in place because of an active shooter event. Several county workers were escorted to their cars by sheriff’s deputies as they left work Thursday afternoon out of an abundance of caution.

The gay bar massacre in Florida years back, was repeated last month with a shooter killing/hurting people in a Miami bar. At least 22 people were shot, 2 fatally injured by the assailants with assault rifles at a club in Miami, police say based on the article written by Holly Yan, Laura James and Raja Razek, CNN. Enter your email to subscribe to the CNN Five Things Newsletter.

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Miami-Dade Police Department Director Ramirez is asking anyone with information about the shooters or their whereabouts to contact authorities.

TV personality and Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the mass shooting, based on the businessman’s tweet on Sunday. On Sunday too, Ramirez tweeted that the Miami Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) added an additional $25,000 to Lemonis’ reward, bringing it to $125,000.

The police director thanked Lemonis for his offer and reminded the public that tipsters can stay anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers. “We need our county to step up with information,” Ramirez said.

“This type of gun violence has to stop. Every weekend, it’s the same thing. This is targeted. This is definitely not random,” added Ramirez.

Actually, in the United States, gun violence never actually went away… there was a short lull caused by the pandemic. “Gun violence has been higher than ever,” Champe Barton, a reporter tracking gun violence at the Trace, recently told PBS News Hour. “Even mass shootings, as defined by the Gun Violence Archive as more — four or more people injured or killed, not including the shooter, even those were up higher than they’d ever been.”

A recent report from the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice and Arnold Ventures noted:  “While COVID-related restrictions may have temporarily suppressed homicide rates, the pandemic has placed individuals and institutions under tremendous strain, ultimately pushing homicide rates higher.”  

We need to be aware of everything, observe CDC protocols, be vigilant, and conscious about what is going on around us to be able to help avoid the spread of gun violence!

Let’s weather the storm together!

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