Letter to the Editor: Guns and emotions

An open letter to the community-at-large and the City of Martinez Planning Commission

Last week the Martinez News-Gazette published Column One and a pair of readers’ letters voicing support for an underground gun range envisioned as part of a proposed downtown outdoor outfitters bazaar and shooters club in the old “opera house” building at Ferry and Escobar.

Proponents of the project represent themselves as “rational” as opposed to all the “emotional” opposition to the project voiced at recent public meetings. You know, mothers with crying babies rather than real men.

But beyond the News-Gazette’s broad sheets, two massive stories invaded America’s weekend newsfeed. Both episodes involved mass shootings – murder with guns. “Domestic Terrorism” is also a label that fits, given the inciteful (sic) climate created at a White House anti-immigration rally in Cincinnati the day before the El Paso massacre – which the administration somehow conflated with Toledo!

Anyone can verify this sordid state of civic affairs with statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, which reduce down to this baldfaced fact: Americans have suffered more than one mass murder in public places every day this year.

Is daily assassination of stray civilians rational in any way? How rational is it to belittle the suffering of someone aggrieved by mass shootings? Are they simply victims of emotional weakness, nothing but cry babies venting in public? This seems to be the impression of underground shooters club supporters.

How is it rational – in these tense times of random civilian firearm violence – for any community to tolerate an elite sidewalk storefront gun club/target range? Thirty-three thousand gun deaths in the USA this year. One massacre a day, plus.

And Martinez wants to help sell more bullets?

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The Planning Commission should urge staff to make an aerial search on digital maps of California urban areas. Look for “gun ranges in [fill-in—blank].” Such a search should produce “street view” results showing shooting ranges located on urban fringes or in large stand-alone structures in light industrial areas with big parking lots. Not with retail storefront entrances on sidewalks with strollers and other downtown foot traffic.

Proponents of the Ferry Street gun range have the burden of proof to demonstrate the public safety of similarly situated sidewalk facilities in California downtown retail storefronts where pedestrians walk right next to the building facade. What’s the public safety impact on retail sidewalk security where any overheard gun shot must be assumed to be suspicious – and dutifully reported to police?

The rational argument behind all this is that people need to protect themselves, apparently in costly clubs which exclude anybody who can’t afford to join. Also rational is the building owner’s right to make a profit above all else.

Those who emotionally fret over being murdered while merely going to school or church or nightclubs or malls or garlic festivals … they should simply purchase their own guns and learn now to protect themselves, rationally.

Indeed, the owner of the old “opera house” intends to obliterate the building’s past with no mention of its history. He presented his proposal at City Hall twice in public power-point presentations which assume everybody is a potential investor in his personal plans for downtown development.

He did not seem to comprehend that many in the audience were community-minded citizens not necessarily inclined to buy into his personal business dream. Given his do-over effort before the Commission, the owner seems thus far incapable of making any public-oriented presentation to non-investors.

The owner also seems to believe his idea somehow suits the town of John Muir. His marketing sidles up to Muir as if the founder of the Sierra Club and national parks were known as some sharpshooter in the mold of Wild Bill Hickok – the laconic lone gunslinger out on the trail personally administering justice by his own hand.

Some sort of “memorial” downtown gun shop is an outright insult to Muir’s environmental legacy. He was a hiker, not a hunter! Guns have never been allowed in Muir’s national parks. And John Muir would have shopped for gear at REI.

– Jamie Jobb

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