Let’s be honest and call this terrorism

Let’s be honest and call this terrorism

This letter to the editor ran in an op-ed feature of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Sep 7, 2019 


Terrorism used to be something that happened on the news, in movies or video games. As a child, I couldn’t comprehend it. I knew that living in the United States protected me from exposure to it. The “greatest nation in the world” was a safe place.

The gun violence epidemic has not only erased that idea from my mind, but it has also made victims of myself, my family and my friends.

Recently my company held an active shooter training. I was late arriving to the “drill” portion of the training by a few minutes. As I was walking to the meeting room a hulking man in fatigues and body armor charged out the door. He produced a convincing-looking black cap gun and fired it at my chest from close range.

Having missed the instructions for the drill, I fell to the floor and played dead. I assumed that was my role, having been “shot” from four feet away. A drill instructor found me and encouraged me to get up. He told me to keep fighting. “It’s going to take more than one bullet to bring you down,” he said enthusiastically.

A few minutes later, we gathered for a debrief. Unannounced, a plainclothes officer entered the room dressed as an assailant, firing another cap gun. Scenario two was designed to catch everyone off-guard. I spent the rest of the day terrified, waiting for scenario three.
I understand the good intentions of those people who put on the drill and I appreciate their attempt to prepare people for the worst. But it’s downright embarrassing that any school, business or public institution in “the greatest nation in the world” should need such training.

As I walked home that evening, I remembered the day my brother’s junior high school class was held up by a student with a handgun. I thought of a recent Facebook post marking a friend as safe at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July, and another post remembering a friend from college who was shot and killed the same week in New Mexico. I began to feel a noose tightening around me. That was when I realized that I understood terrorism.

The dramatic increase in gun violence in America has brought about a sea change in everyday life. Places that used to feel safe now feel uncertain. The fear we all experience is being exploited to sell more guns. Our political system is too broken to deal with the thousands of gun deaths and injuries every year. All of which leads to more gun violence.

All the training and equipment in the world won’t help you if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We’re allowing the likelihood of that to increase every day.
I never thought I would live in a nation affected by terrorism. I do now.


— Chris Bono, Downtown


For your children’s sake, ask about guns

For your children’s sake, ask about guns

This letter to the editor ran in an op-ed feature of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Sep 7, 2019

Do you keep guns in your house?

Your kids are going to meet new kids as the new school year gets underway. They’ll want to go to one another’s homes to play, study and sleep over. You’ll be getting to know their parents, and their parents will be getting to know you.

So, are you ready for the parents —including my spouse and me, by the way — who are going to ask you whether you keep guns in your house? It can be a difficult conversation for everybody, but it doesn’t have to be.

We have easy, comfortable conversations about dozens of other safety topics:
“My daughter’s allergic to milk.” “Got it. Is fruit juice all right?”

“My son doesn’t swim yet. Do you have a pool?” “Yes, but I’ll lock the gate and make sure they play indoors only.”

“My kids can’t function without a full night of sleep.” “No problem. We turn off the lights at 9:30 p.m.”

But this conversation about guns is much tougher. How can we make the conversation easy on all of us, for our kids’ sake?

Here are two responses that won’t help:
“Yes, we have guns,” you say, “but our kids know their way around guns, so we’re not worried about accidents.” Unfortunately, our kids are curious, and they don’t know their way around guns. I’m worried about that.

Or you say, “Yes, but we hide them, so the kids don’t know where they are. And we keep the guns separate from the ammunition.” Well, too many kids know where the guns and ammo are, and a few hundred of them have an unintentional shooting with a gun every year.

On the other hand, we’ll be greatly relieved if you respond, “Yes, we have guns and we store them safely. Let me show you the gun safe where they’re locked up.”

So we’re going to keep asking that uncomfortable question, until it becomes as easy as talking about allergies. Because discomfort is a small price to pay to ensure our children’s safety.

Kasey Zahner, La Mesa

Ask if there are guns in the house. Keep our kids safe. #gunsafety

Photo credit: K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune


Team Enough Commitment to End Gun Violence

Team Enough Commitment to End Gun Violence

“Team Enough Central San Diego is devastated by the mass shootings that have plagued our nation in recent months and by the senseless violence that takes lives in communities every day. We will continue to fight for effective policies that can be implemented on a local, state, and federal level. We will work to support those most affected by these tragedies, and we will become the generation to end the gun violence epidemic once and for all.”

— Yasmine Mabene, Member,
Team Enough Central San Diego