“The High Cost of Gun Violence” community forum at the Faulkner Gallery (Feb. 21, 2013)

Paul Wellman

“The High Cost of Gun Violence” community forum at the Faulkner Gallery (Feb. 21, 2013)

Shoot-Shoot, Bang-Bang

Panel Explores Gun Violence in Santa Barbara

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
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No wonder the room was packed. For the past 18 years, Santa Barbara’s Coalition Against Gun Violence has been preaching to the converted on the need for gun control. But last week’s forum organized by the coalition — held at the downtown library’s Faulkner Gallery — came two months after the Sandy Hook massacre in which 20 Connecticut school kids and six adults were mowed down in a blizzard of hot lead. And it came just two days after a 21-year-old Ventura resident was shot to death while riding a bike just half a block from the rear entrance to Santa Barbara High School. Witnesses reported hearing four shots fired on a very public street. By Santa Barbara standards, such a public display of gunfire is highly unusual. To date, no arrests have been made, and police investigators have yet to release the identity of the victim, itself also unusual.

“The High Cost of Gun Violence” community forum at the Faulkner Gallery (Feb. 21, 2013)
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

“The High Cost of Gun Violence” community forum at the Faulkner Gallery (Feb. 21, 2013)

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider moderated the panel discussion, which was notably devoid of any representatives of the “gun rights” point of view. Most of the speakers — who included a judge, a high ranking cop, the mother of a drive-by shooting victim, and a handful of mental health experts — agreed that easy access to copious quantities of guns and ammo coupled with America’s seemingly insatiable yen for violent entertainment has yielded grim results. By the year 2015, the death toll inflicted by guns will exceed that caused by automobile accidents, stated Toni Wellen, who has kept the coalition going since 1994. Roughly 32,000 Americans are killed a year by gun violence, she pointed out. By contrast, she noted, the Korean War claimed the lives of 33,686 American troops, and Vietnam took 58,193. America leads the world in gun ownership, she said, with 300 million guns. That’s 88 guns per 100 people. Coming in second is Yemen, with 55 guns per 100 citizens. “If guns made us safe,” Wellen said, “we’d be the safest country in the world.”

Judge Denise de Bellefeuille argued that the level of gun-inflicted carnage has achieved the “critical mass” sufficient for the public to seriously question the extent to which the right to bear arms has trumped public safety. In the meantime, DeBellefeuile said she would not join in the national celebration of violent entertainment. As a former prosecutor, DeBellefeuile said she saw more than enough blood and guts doing murder-suicide ride-alongs. “Don’t buy a ticket to Die Hard,” she advised the standing-room crowd.

“The High Cost of Gun Violence” community forum at the Faulkner Gallery (Feb. 21, 2013)
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

“The High Cost of Gun Violence” community forum at the Faulkner Gallery (Feb. 21, 2013)

Assistant Police Chief Frank Mannix argued the time to plan one’s response to a shoot-out scenario is now, not when the shoot-out occurs. People should run, hide, and be prepared to fight, he said. The police, he went on, will take about 10 minutes to show up and take charge. “During that time, quite frankly, you’re on your own,” Mannix stated. He noted that in the past 10 years, the City of Santa Barbara has experienced 375 gun-related crimes. In an interview after the forum, Mannix elaborated that of those 375 instances, five involved homicides of which one was a double homicide. Thirteen involved suicides. And 131 involved guns used in the course of a robbery. That statistic, Mannix cautioned, might convey an inflated sense of how often guns are used in Santa Barbara. He said the notes bank robbers give the tellers are counted as “gun crimes” whether guns are shown or not. That’s the most frequently occurring instance in which guns are used in the course of robberies, he said. In addition, Mannix noted that there were 76 instances of gun brandishing over the past 10 years. Brandishing, he said, is defined by displaying a gun in a “rude and intimidating” manner. Brandishing, he said, also includes the use of facsimile guns.

Toni Wellen and Mayor Helene Schneider at “The High Cost of Gun Violence” community forum in the Faulkner Gallery (Feb. 21, 2013)
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Toni Wellen and Mayor Helene Schneider at “The High Cost of Gun Violence” community forum in the Faulkner Gallery (Feb. 21, 2013)

Mannix’s numbers underscore a point later made by Dr. Paul Erickson, head of Cottage Hospital’s mental health department. Massacres like Sandy Hook may get all the media attention, he noted, but they don’t do the most damage. That distinction, he said, goes to suicides by gun, which he noted outnumber homicides by a two-to-one margin. Since Sandy Hook, there’s been considerable focus on the flaws of the mental health systems. Erickson said he welcomed the recent onslaught of mental health advocates but that the discussion has been clouded by several myths. He noted that only 4 percent of people who commit gun violence have been clinically diagnosed with a mental illness. He acknowledged that many of the young men involved in the high profile mass shootings have been mentally ill. Few of these, he said, have sought treatment. And, he added, “The leverage to require treatment is very limited.” To place people in an involuntary hold in California, for example, requires a finding that they pose a threat to themselves or to others. And that hold — known as a 5150—expires after 72 hours.

Adding a broader sociological perspective, Dr. Jamie Rotnofsky noted that gun violence correlates highly with poverty and ethnicity. Young black men in Philadelphia have a higher chance of being killed by gunfire, she noted, than if they served in the armed forces in Afghanistan. Packing the most emotional punch was Marisa Martinez of Oxnard, whose 19-year-old son Vince was shot to death in front of his house eight years ago. His last words, Martinez said, were, “I don’t want to die, Mom; don’t let me go.” Martinez, who has been crusading against gun violence ever since, said the event still inflicts damage on the family. Vince’s twin brother, she said, doesn’t get out of bed and is on numerous medications to treat post-traumatic stress. “I feel I lost two sons,” she said. Every month, she said, the family gets a check for $6, compensation administered by the state from her son’s killer, now in a state prison. “The person who killed my son had 11 guns in their house,” she said. “How could the family not know there were 11 guns in the house. I sure would know.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Another impotent, vacuous, and irrelevant meeting.
How many of those suicide by guns would have killed themselves by some other means? That's right, we have no idea.
As for the grieving mother from Oxnard: Exactly! Most of us would know if our kids had guns. It is not the fault of the guns but the lackluster parents.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 7:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

How many people have been murdered or assaulted in SB by knives and various blunt instruments during the last 10 years? I'm way more worried about a gang member or other dangerous person with a knife in SB, than with a gun.

banjo (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 8:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If guns made us safe,” Wellen said, “we’d be the safest country in the world.”

tabatha (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 9:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

And if social programs and the nanny state were the secret we would have eradicated violence.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 9:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Civilian guns are virtually unheard of in Japan, yet that country has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Same with South Korea and China, which have even higher rates.

banjo (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 11:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Interesting statistics in this article; Guns in the Home and Risk of a Violent Death in the Home: Findings from a National Study, March 2013 Am. Journal of Epidemiology, Around half of gun homicides occurred in the south, around 3/4 of the victims knew their assailants, around 1/3 occurred during a family argument and within 4 hours of alcohol use. Not relevant in homicide and suicide statistics were the type or number of guns (handguns or long guns) or gun storage, or the "psychological and behavioral characteristics of the decedent because there were no significant differences between those who used a firearm and those who used some other means in terms of their psychological or behavioral characteristics. Homicide by gun statistics for victims with guns in their homes include those involving a different gun than the one(s) in the home, and correlation between guns in the home and homicides may reflect lifestyles that involve violence or illegal behavior or high-risk neighborhoods, and that the "risk comes not necessarily from the presence of the gun in the house but from these types of environmental factors and exposures."

14noscams (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 3:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sniff, sniff- I smell b.s.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 3:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Stabbings?...Domestic violence?...

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 3:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sorry, forgot: Drunk driving deaths?...

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 3:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Economic violence?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 27, 2013 at 3:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

AZ2SB. The "b.s." you smell is an assistant police chief (Mannix) reporting officers "will take about 10 minutes to show up and take charge" when a reported shoot-out occurs. This is an extremely SLOW response time for any law enforcement agency to a major incident! Even if officers were in the station and dispatched they should arrive in less than 10 minutes (using red lights & siren) to any scene in the city. Of course, if they are using their recent brainchild, the 3-wheeler, it will take longer. Was Mannix misquoted relative to response time? If not misquoted does Mannix really know what he's talking about?

whatsinsb (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2013 at 6:21 a.m. (Suggest removal)


If gun control made us safe, then Chicago would be the safest city in the U. S. and not the murder capitol.

The spoon did not make Rosy O’Donnell fat.

edukder (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2013 at 1:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

10 minutes is a long time to fight off a meth crazed home invader.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2013 at 2:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but look at how much time the guy who shot up the 33 at Virgina Tech had to pick off his victims, while law enforcement was unable to track him. Same deal with Brevik in Norway.

Guns to a lot of the far-Left knee-jerk folks incite the same emotional reaction as marijuana to a lot of the far-Right Moral Majority types: It's a wedge issue that has symbolic representation of a part of society that each group fears, hates, and does not understand.

Here are three pro-2nd Amendment groups which dispel the sterotypes about gun owners being testosterone-crazed Rednecks.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2013 at 7:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@billclausen ~ This guy doesn't appear to be a testosterone-crazed redneck, but he sounds just like one.

Let's be realistic here. The only changes we're going to see in the law is increased back ground checks (like the NRA used to support) and laws similar to what CA has now. Diane Idiotstein's proposals will go now where. The 2nd amendment will survive.

The industry that is causing these ridiculous reactions is the unpatriotic conspiracy idiots making money off the gullible. They exist on both sides of the spectrum.

You want to save thousands of lives. Put this much attention into drunk driving.

Validated (anonymous profile)
February 28, 2013 at 10:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If gun control made us safe, then Chicago would be the safest city in the U. S. and not the murder capitol.
-- edukder

If idiotic comments were eliminated, the Indy would be comment free.

Chicago's gun control laws apply to a very limited geographically area. Gun runners of all stripes import guns into the city proper completely without limitation by the thousands. This renders Chicago's gun control laws impotent. But don't let the facts on the ground inhibit your "thinking".

SezMe (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 2:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Roughly 32,000 Americans are killed a year by gun violence, [Toni Wellen] pointed out."

Not quite.

Per the CDC, that number is TOTAL firearm related deaths (31,672), but firearm homicide is "only" 11,078 (the rest being accident, suicide, and lawful action by civilians or law enforecement). That's still too many, sure, but let's put those statistics in perspective:

The leading cause of death of Americans is heart disease, at 597,689 per anum. Six hundred thousand. Where is the public outcry against fast food? Where is the advocacy for subsidized gym memberships? Homicide (of any nature) isn't even among the top ten causes. Those positions of honor are mostly reserved for passive-suicide: poor diet, smoking, and other lousy lifestyle choices.

If gun-control advocates truly wanted to save lives, they'd be better served lobbying against McDonald's.

My point isn't to trivialize gun violence, but to hopefully put it into perspective, and hopefully mitigate knee-jerk reactions. I am a strong proponent of "better laws, better enforced" instead of an unended cascade of more laws that are ineffective, unenforceable, or unconstitutional.

Sothep (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 2:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A friend of my dad's had his car break down near an offramp in a tough part of town. As he was waiting for help, a bunch of thugs appeared and were going to attack him, Lenny pulled out a gun and pointed it at the group of thugs, the group of thugs disappeared. This happened in Chicago a number of years ago.

"If idiotic comments were eliminated, the Indy would be comment free." -SezMe-

I don't know how to react to this. SezMe is insulting all of us, and his/her self. Should I be angry, or pity SezMe's self-loathing, or realize SezMe just came up with the most creative comment so far in this thread?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 3 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Bill, I'm not really sure.

SezMe apparently criticized a comment pointing out the ineffectiveness of Chicago's gun laws by arguing that criminals undermine the laws, rendering them ineffective.

Or something?

Sothep (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 4:32 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@ Sothep and billclausen

Apparently SezMe believes that when enough new anti-Second Amendment laws are passed, all the criminals will surrender their guns. Then we can all sing Kumbaya together.

And a special question for SezMe: Was it the spoon that made you fat?

edukder (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 7:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Gun Control, is Hitting your TARGET!

dou4now (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 7:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

My concern, aside from the weapons issue, is the following comment by Assistant Police Chief Mannix: "The police, he went on, will take about 10 minutes to show up and take charge. “During that time, quite frankly, you’re on your own,”

If this is an accurate statement by Mannix I believe the citizens of this city should be advised (why) it takes police 10 minutes to respond to a major incident. The longer it takes police to locate a suspect in an incident could lead to further damage or injury(ies) caused by a suspect, but, this clock starts running after police arrive at a scene. Too many variables to say how long it should take to locate a suspect(s) once police are at an incident location and not an issue for the most part that police can control.

But, if you are being threatened by a suspect brandishing or firing a gun (or using another type of deadly weapon), I believe it's important to learn from the PD why it will take 10 minutes for police to arrive! Within reason, police can control response time and 10 minutes is too long to respond to an emergency.

whatsinsb (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 10:10 a.m. (Suggest removal)


Here is something you must never forget:

When every second counts, the police are only minutes away.

edukder (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 7:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)


I would like to accept your comment requesting we remember " - police are only minutes away."

But, the reported 10 minute response time to a "shoot-out scenario" was made by an Assistant Police Chief, Mannix, not a rookie patrol officer. Mannix should know (within reason) the average response time of patrol units to specific types of calls within this city. I suspect there is a crime analyst or other person at the PD that might have patrol car response time data. Mannix emphasizes this lengthy response time by stating “During that time, quite frankly, you’re on your own.”

Not quite what I'd want to hear if I happened to live in a high crime area. This comment alone might give people in these areas incentive to go out and secure a weapon in order to defend themselves during a major incident having been told it will take 10 minutes for police to arrive.

I believe citizens of our city deserve to know if Mannix' statement is accurate. If it is, why does it take a Police Officer ten minutes to respond to a major incident? Do you believe 10 minutes is too long for police to arrive at the scene of a major incident? If we agree a 10 minute response is not acceptable, what can be done to resolve this problem?

whatsinsb (anonymous profile)
March 1, 2013 at 8:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The big picture here is that the social engineering experiment that started in the late '60's is blowing up in our faces and those who still blindly support the idealism behind would rather pass more laws than admit that while well-intended, this experiment needed to be tweaked to accommodate the faults of human nature.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 2, 2013 at 3:02 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Typical Jewish left-wing rhetoric. If the government is arming cartels and cops, and gangs have easy access to to those guns, you got to be crazy not to arm yourself with the equivalent. If some drugged up guy is spraying my house with a AK, are you going to wait 5 minutes for the cops? I will protect my family with all means necessary. As for cops, not to be trusted or depended upon, we have a corrupt government and now you want to take our guns and let us be at your mercy, no thanks. I got an idea, be like most of Europe where cops don't carry guns and then we might not need to own them.

sbcalikid (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 6:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What would be typical atheist left wing rhetoric? If we're going to assign a religion to gun control advocates, might I point to the teachings of Christ and Buddha?
Maybe we need guns to protect ourselves from Right Wing Anti-Semites.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 7, 2013 at 6:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What accounts for the increase in violence in our culture? Why the road rage, rudeness, and other ills the precipitate the need for more laws? It's easy to pass laws, but harder to address human nature.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 1:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

domestic violence keeps rising, drunk driving keeps rising, child abuse and incest keeps rising; it couldnt be that we allow millions of people from a country where these things are accepted to come into our country undocumented? could it?

redbunz (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 8:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Not if you consider the preponderance of WASPs* guilty of violence, drunk driving, child abuse including rape, before and after the invasion you imagine.

*WHITE Anglo-Saxon Protestants

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 8, 2013 at 9:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's the overall picture. The issue Redbunz raises is part of the picture but even if there were zero immigration to the U.S. the "Lone Wolf" psychological aspect of people who shoot up lots of people at random would still be happening.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 4:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

the invasion i IMAGINE? lol! did you move here last year? just cause it happened over 40 years doesnt mean it didnt happen. i personally saw my class size in lausd in 1983 go from 25 kids to 40 in ONE SEMESTER. they had me and the other gate kids teaching them english. to your other point, there is a taboo, a rather severe taboo, against beating your wife and having sex with your daughter in the united states. drunk driving isnt percieved as macho. that means people call the cops on you, that means you get prosecuted. that doesnt happen in mexico, believe me i lived there. ive seen incest cases in santa barbara over and over involving illegals. dont bend over too far backwards ken. these "wasps" (just as prejudice a term as any) are the ones who call the cops. but i guess we should all practice moral relativity and "tolerance" like you.

redbunz (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 9:22 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Basic math must be hard for someone who prefers their gut over history, and facts in general, so I'll help you out:

1983 was exactly 30 years ago, not "over 40 years [ago]."

As you say: "lol."

Chester_Arthur_Burnett (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 10:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

great retort chester! wow you really blew my whole statement out of the water! im so ashamed of myself, my whole paradigm has shifted! please can i join your backslapping ego fondling club now? all my inflammatory statements were flushed down the toilet instantly by your brilliant and highly relevant deduction. thank you for opening my eyes!

redbunz (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 11:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I can't resist: How many WASP'S does it take to put in a light bulb?..

Answer: Two. One to mix the martinis, and the other to call the electrician. (Dedicated to the WASP'S in my childhood village of Edgebrook, Illinois. )

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 3:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Some of my best friends are WASPS.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 4:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

well, some of MY best friends are WASPS, too, but there's also plenty of those typical left wing atheist sorts among my crowd, and many libertarians and proud Republicans.
dunno, BC, your comment vs. the so-called "social engineering experiment that started in the late '60's" misses since there wasn't much of an experiment -- you mean Roszak's Counter-culture?! And the decay began much earlier than the 60s, I think Ayn Rand placed John Galt (and Dagney Taggart) back in the 1930s. Or bring up the graduated income tax established then by the feds... No, your argument seems to be with human nature, like that of hgwmv, so you can't lay it all on booze (like you are wont to do) or onto stupidly conceived late 60s lefty radicalism.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I blame it on corporatism.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 4:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Very convincing article - facts would only muddy the water. I'm off to the SM gun show tomorrow. I remember the Kent State massacre.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 9:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

watch the kinsey syndrome on you tube. i think this is part of what bill is saying.

redbunz (anonymous profile)
March 9, 2013 at 10:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Let me try (and I may fail to articulate what I'm feeling) to simplify. Unstable family units and communities are what I connect to what's happening. It could be a combination of Ayn Rand, Alfred Kinsey, corporatism, or anything else, but without question when a kid grows up not feeling safe and secure in their surroundings, they are much more likely to become violent adults. A good dose of love and personal accountability are a recipe to producing good world citizens.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 3:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

& I mostly concur, but the bigger question is HOW to achieve these communities, especially with increasing inequalities, dwindling government incentives (the sequester), the iron river coursing with guns and drugs, ... those WASPS you jested about [yeah, the ones I know do pound the martinis or G&Ts or anejo tequilas] are happy to be in the upper 3/5ths and anxiously await their entitlements. I'm hearin' JL's footsteps here (grinning).
In the posthuman world rife with identity politics and apathy among the masses... who cares? Just pseudonyms nattering in endless threads, signifying nothing... ahhhh

DrDan (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 1:55 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The nattering naypixels.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 2:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

the chattering nabobs of imbecility...or, nattering nabobs of naypixels and cloud confusion...? what ignited Spiro to such pinnacles of platitude?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 3:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Just say it guys: "Nattering nabobs of negativism". Spiro Agnew lives on.

As for the WASP'S I refer to, we really DID live in a WASP neighborhood, and I noticed how while my dad and one or maybe two other guys would actually get their hands dirty, a lot of them were about calling the electrician. Tequila?, that would have been considered way too lowbrow for those people. Martinis?...yep, maybe even champagne but no working-class alcohol--image was important and provided me with lots of comedy material.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 10, 2013 at 7:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

& I was trying to avoid the triple-N and the actual inane phrase...
hey, I grew up in a fully WASPish 'hood in the San Fernando Valley, parents there drank a bit of Thunderbird or, dare I say it, hiddle away bottles of Ripple, now THAT was good stuff.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 2:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Self respecting WASPs only pop pills and drink Cosmos.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 11, 2013 at 2:12 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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