Opinion: I care about my hometown of Thousand Oaks

Posted on Nov 9 2018 - 5:50am by Gavin P. Norton

I care about Thousand Oaks, California. Nothing will change the love I will indefinitely express towards that community. Nothing.

Right now it seems more and more people are suddenly starting to care about my humble hometown, and under normal circumstances I would be flattered. It’s an inclusive, friendly and historically safe town. But, now, innocent little Thousand Oaks is making national news for something it didn’t deserve. And it will continue to make national news. And then, in a timeframe depending on the nationality, motives, religion or appearance of the killer, it will eventually stop. The nation’s love and care will fade out and away until the next tragedy.

The memories will always fade faster than the reputation of the town.

For anybody, for any reason, seeing your hometown make the national news so quickly, for such a tragedy, is bone-rattling. On a personal note, I have often been one to call out people for making situations like this political. When I saw somebody attach a town to a political motive, I was appalled. How on Earth could one speak on a pedestal made from the tombstones of those who passed tragically? Now, however, I am starting to see the situation anew. The circumstances have changed, and I admit I have changed how I look at the debate.

Most advised me not to write this, simply because of my views of the second amendment and gun freedoms. Nevertheless, I write because I have significant messages I want to spread, significant messages worthy of spreading.

Anybody advocating on either side of the argument for how to prevent these disasters from happening again is advocating out of love. Whether you agree with their proposed viewpoints or not is irrelevant. No human would propose any sort of solution to mass shootings or gun violence if they didn’t have a basic love for humanity in their hearts.

Nobody wants this to happen again, especially not in their hometown.

As far as I am concerned, charge the situation politically as much as you want, as far left or right as you want, because change is not going to happen if we ignore it. Change is going to happen when we talk about it and respect when other people, even those whose ideas seem ludicrous, talk about it with us.

I am ashamed to say it now, but I often ignored mass shootings when they made the national news. I often thought to myself, “Nobody wants to hear my opinion,” or, “Me saying ‘more gun control is not the better option’ will only make things worse,” so I ignored the cause. I now see how selfish that was. And it took a mass shooting in the place I love most to show me that.

Please, do not be as selfish as I was.

We, as Americans, cannot ignore that this is a problem. I know it is, and have often reacted to these events solely on the belief that mass shootings are not a statistically significant problem in America. Yes, they happen often here — more often compared to other first world countries — but the chances of being involved in one in some way were slim to none. In fact, the likelihood of simply being connected to a mass shooting is the same as the chance that one has of dying from a legal execution, about 1 in 110,154, according to The National Safety Council.

I have learned that statistical significance does not correlate to significance.

That being said, please be careful not to spread misleading statistics at this time. We want to talk about this, and we want to do so on a political level. This shooting is now marked as the 307th mass shooting in 311 days, according to USA Today.

This rare, outlying piece of data is my home. Imagine, if it isn’t the case already, this was your home. Suddenly, the figures start to matter less.

Out there somewhere, there is a solution to this horror. I have my thoughts on what that might be, and I know for certain several others do, too. I also know their thoughts are likely in stark contrast to mine. Alas, I now feel open enough to discuss this topic, as we all should.

Because ignoring it means we don’t care about the issue. It means we don’t see it as an issue.

Say what you want about guns, but in what is often ranked the third-safest city in the state with the single most gun regulations, according to The Brady Center, a crowd of over 100 will never view life the same way. Thirteen will never view life again.

I care about my hometown. Do you care about yours?

Gavin P. Norton is a freshman journalism major from Thousand Oaks, Calif. He is the former editor-in-chief of The Lancer, Thousand Oaks High School’s student newspaper.