Response to Sporting Goods Store Letter

Next week the Martinez community will get to hear for themselves the plans for the Ferry Street building in downtown Martinez. Much has been written about these plans, with many concerns raised. Some legitimate, some bordering on hysteric, but all based on one common theme the utter dislike of firearms.

For me personally, I am neither a fan nor foe. I believe in what I consider to be commonsense gun laws like universal background checks and closing the gun show loopholes, but it’s our nation’s DNA of self-determination and self-reliance that gun owners see as being at the heart of the gun debate.  Those who identify as rugged individualists holding fast to family traditions and independence. To those this argument is about the dilution of and the stripping of a fundamental right enshrined in our Constitution.

In my desk drawer is a manila envelope filled with grainy xeroxed copies of newspaper clippings my uncle (who is just a few years older) mailed to me years ago. I haven’t found the courage to open that childhood wound to read the articles. One article talks about a 12-year-old boy walking into the Springfield Institution for Savings to donate the $1 he earned himself to the victims’ children fund. A fund set up to help the five children left without a mother (my maternal grandmother and bank employee) and father (the bank manager) murdered during the commission of a bank robbery.

I don’t know about my two aunts or my uncle, but I don’t blame the rifle for my grandmother’s death. I blame the murderer. Sure, my ambivalence to firearms may be traced back to that moment in time but firearms have never repulsed or frightened me. But even if guns did scare the crap out of me, what does the government owe me, what do business owners owe me in response?

It wasn’t the car’s fault when my father’s brother (my uncle) was murdered, it was the drunk driver – do we now cease car manufacturers from selling cars – or do we install technology that prevents drunk drivers from operating automobiles?

It wasn’t the airplane’s fault on September 11, 2001 when 2,977 people were killed, it was the terrorists. Do we cease all air travel indefinitely because a group of terrorists used four airplanes as weapons or do we increase security screenings of passengers?

Since 1984 California has led the rest of the nation in enacting commonsense gun laws in response to and with the hopes of preventing gun related violence. By the time this business will open even more laws will be on the books. This is the government’s response.

The idea of a sporting goods store in the heart of a downtown populated by fishermen, duck hunters and outdoorsmen doesn’t frighten me. I see this fitting a regional need and the proposed subterranean shooting range as a responsible service for small firearm owners. If Mr. Varise can demonstrate he’s willing and capable of mitigating concerns regarding health and safety, then I believe he should be issued the permits necessary to proceed.

Linda Meza

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