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Gun Violence-- Getting Up Close and Personal

By       Message Hollye Dexter     Permalink
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Yesterday, there was yet another incidence of gun violence in America. Two police officers were shot in Santa Cruz, a peaceful community of artists and hippies and vegans. This was not just a blip in the news cycle in my household. Sergeant Loren Butch Baker was my husband Troy's childhood friend. For years, I've heard stories about Troy and Butch, and their childhood escapades. They loved to ride Butch's minibikes, and target shoot, and play cops and robbers, pretending they were the guys from their favorite TV shows: Chase, One Adam Twelve, Emergency, Hawaii-5-0. They rode bikes, talked to each other on their CB radios, took family trips together, played Little League, and got into general mischief, like little boys do. Troy grew up to be a musician (with a secret desire to be a cop) but Butch actually grew up to be a police officer.

Yesterday, Butch, and his partner, detective Elizabeth Butler, were taken out by a maniac with a gun. This maniac, whose name I will not honor, was known to be unstable. He had a criminal past, had been arrested for sexual assault and carrying a concealed weapon. And yet, according to San Jose Mercury News, he had three guns registered to him, including a .40-caliber semi-automatic Sig Sauer.

This is yet another infuriating case of private citizens outgunning the police. Butch and Elizabeth were gunned down instantly, never stood a chance. A 28-year veteran of the police department, Butch was just months away from retirement.

Like Troy, Butch had a wife and three kids. They will have to find a way to go on without him now. Detective Butler also leaves behind two sons. Having been impacted by gun violence in my own family, I know all too well that these families will be forever affected, and generations will feel the impact. The damage goes far beyond what a bullet can do.

Gun violence is not a local problem. It's not an inner city problem. It is an American problem. When this madness extends to quiet communities like Newtown, and peaceful hippie artist communities like Santa Cruz, it's time for us to wake up.


There are almost as many registered guns as there are people in this country (88 guns to every 100 people). That does not include black market and unregistered guns, which could make up to 40% of the guns in America. Gun violence is the second leading cause of death to American children between the ages of 2 and 19. Every day in our country, eight children are killed by guns. Every day. Are we paying attention yet?

The first assault weapons ban was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, and allowed to quietly expire under George W. Bush in 2004. Since then, mass shootings have become an epidemic. Bloomberg news reports that by 2015, firearm fatalities will exceed traffic fatalities as the leading cause of accidental death.

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For those of you who believe guns are not the problem, consider this. According to Forbes, "In 1991, 15 years after Washington, D.C. banned handguns, researchers from the University of Maryland conducted a study to assess the impact of the ban. They tracked homicides and suicides in the district from 1968 to 1987 and found that homicides by firearm fell by 25 percent and suicides committed with firearms dropped by 23 percent."

When maniacs have open access to military style assault weapons, no community can be deemed safe. Quiet community schools are not safe. Movie theatres are not safe. Safeway stores are not safe. Kindergarten classes are not safe. The police are not safe. When does this insanity end?

There are solutions to this problem. When car accidents were killing mass amounts of Americans, we stepped up and regulated that industry. Today, cars are safer than ever thought possible. We can make this better. No one is talking about overturning the second amendment. No one is coming for your guns. Common sense gun regulation is all we're asking for.

If you are an American citizen, this is YOUR problem. Every single one of us has to take responsibility and do something. When we band together, small simple things, like an email or a phone call to congress, showing up for a rally, or voting, make a huge impact.

Please, be part of that impact. Let us stand united and make our country safe for all citizens.

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Hollye Dexter is co-editor of Dancing At the Shame Prom (Seal Press), and recently completed a second memoir, What Doesn't Kill You. Her essays have been published in anthologies and in many online publications. A singer/songwriter with four albums (more...)

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