What Comes After a Mass Shooting
A week ago, a gunman opened fire at a San Jose rail yard, killing nine of his colleagues before apparently killing himself. Some eight miles away, the gunman’s home had been set ablaze.
Although officials are still trying to piece together exactly what happened that morning and why — a task that may never really be complete — the details that have emerged are gutting, in part because they were predictable in a nation where such mass shootings have become a numbing routine.
The gunman had for years complained about his job at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, telling his ex-wife that he wished he could kill his co-workers and writing about his hatred for the agency in a notebook once flagged by border officials as he returned from a trip. He was described by colleagues, neighbors and former partners as an emotionally volatile, likely mentally ill loner.
Victims’ loved ones described the shattering sudden loss of parents, spouses and friends who were merely starting an ordinary work day when they were killed.
This wasn’t the first time San Jose’s mayor, Sam Liccardo, had been called upon to comfort community members grieving for loved ones killed in a mass shooting.
In 2019, “we lost two children,” he told me on Tuesday, referring to the deaths of two young city residents during a shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival.
Now, as then, Liccardo said, the first priority has been to ensure that survivors and families have access to counseling and support. But he said he also feels urgency to enact policies that might stem the tide of gun violence — even if long-sought federal gun control legislation has been elusive.
“Mayors don’t have the luxury of offering prayers and platitudes,” he said. “People expect concrete actions.”
To that end, Liccardo said, he hoped the San Jose City Council would approve, by the end of the year, a first-in-the-nation requirement that gun owners in the city insure their weapons or pay fees to keep them. The idea, he explained, is that guns are contributing to a public health crisis — and it’s expensive.
Liccardo said that requiring drivers to carry auto insurance has helped cut down on fatalities from car crashes, so having the private insurance industry get involved would help incentivize responsible gun ownership and defray the cost of gun violence to taxpayers, who pay for emergency and law enforcement services.
The mayor first proposed the idea in 2019 in the wake of the Gilroy shooting, but he said the pandemic delayed progress on the measure.
“We were working with an epidemiologist at the county, so we put that aside,” he said. “Now, I think we’re ready to come back.”
Of course, gun laws at every level have faced intense and sustained legal challenges. Liccardo told me he’s “not delusional” about the fact that a gun regulation ordinance would require a vigorous legal defense. But he said that city-level policy changes could provide ideas that Congress and even the state legislature would not be nimble enough to enact.
“No one would say that it would be ideal for each city to come up with its own policies,” he said. “But we recognize that cities can be laboratories for policy innovation.”
Here’s a look at what we know about the shooting.
Read about the victims’ lives.
See a partial list of the mass shootings in the United States so far this year.
A gunman killed one Los Angeles County firefighter at a station in the Santa Clarita Valley on Tuesday, The Los Angeles Times reports. Another was wounded.
It will take weeks or months for the Valley Transportation Authority’s light rail service to return, The Mercury News reports.
California saw more active shooters than any other state over the last two decades, new federal data shows, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. Although California has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, the ranking roughly tracks with population size.
Here’s what else to know today
Compiled by Jonathan Wolfe
Dangerously hot conditions are forecast for the Western United States this week. Temperatures could reach as high as 107 degrees in the San Joaquin Valley, and may break daily records in the Fresno area.
In a pair of unanimous decisions, the Supreme Court ruled that tribal police officers may sometimes detain and search non-Native Americans on federal highways, and that there is no presumption that testimony from immigrants fighting deportation is credible.
A drought crisis has erupted in the Klamath Basin along the California-Oregon border, with fish dying en masse and farmers infuriated that they have been cut off from their main water source.
Mayor London Breed of San Francisco proposed spending more than $1 billion to address homelessness in the city over the next two years, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Handgun sales in California surged 66 percent during the pandemic, The Sacramento Bee reports.
Today, the State Supreme Court will begin hearing a case that is challenging the use of the death penalty, which could potentially reverse death sentences for 704 inmates in the state, CalMatters reports.
A deputy in the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department died after being shot in a high-speed chase in Yucca Valley, near Joshua Tree National Park, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The state’s unemployment department is so difficult to get a hold of that some people are paying private companies to robocall the department and then connect them, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
CalMatters asks, can the state withstand the predicted widespread teacher retirements this year?
Coachella and Stagecoach will return in April 2022, The Press-Enterprise reports.
The New York Times Style Magazine explored the legacy of the Communicative Arts Academy, a vital hub for Black artists in Compton that was largely excluded from Los Angeles’s cultural institutions.
“Kim’s Convenience,” a CBC Television sitcom about a Korean Canadian family who owns a convenience store in Toronto, stands apart for the way it has normalized Korean cuisine and culture.
When a bear threatened her family dogs, a teenager in Bradbury, east of Los Angeles, charged the animal and shoved it off a backyard wall, ABC 7 reports.
Real estate: Climate hazards should be added to your home buyer’s checklist, and there are tools to help buyers analyze the risks of disasters when searching for a new house.
And finally …
The population of Western monarch butterflies that winter in California has been dwindling. So a coalition of conservation groups has hatched a plan: Grow a lot more milkweed. The plant, according to the U.S. Forest Service, is “Nature’s mega food market for insects.”
California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: [email protected]. Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.
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