Yes, that massive display of weaponry on
Vallejo's waterfront last Saturday by an open carry group based in was appalling. It was, as intended, an insult to Martinez and a provocation to its people. It was, in every way, appalling. Vallejo
How else to describe a hundred armed men strutting their stuff in a public park where kids were playing football and riding their skateboards and moms were pushing their strollers on a sunny holiday weekend. When I pointed this out to an armed man from
, I was told "Kids have to learn." What, I asked do they have to learn? To fear, to take the law into their own hands, to be ready to kill? Pittsburg
How else to describe the inappropriateness of such in-your-face behavior on the holiest weekend on the Christian calendar; of a pistol-packing "Christian minister" from Benicia - barely old enough to shave - spouting talking points about Jesus the tough guy; of someone else in the crowd saying that, had he had a gun, Jesus would not have had to die on the cross…that, had he had a gun, "things would be different." They sure would!
How else to describe the danger of putting guns into the hands of people who, as demonstrated in the hundreds of anonymous foul-mouthed postings on the Times-Herald's website, are full of anger, fear, and hatred. Among them, I fear, there are some who may be emotionally unstable. We've seen the fearful results around the country. We don't need to play with such fire in
. We've suffered enough. Vallejo
I found appalling not only the behavior of these fearful, angry men (and the 3-4 women among them), but also the "hear no evil, see no evil" behavior of our city officials and agencies.
Why, for example, did the Greater Vallejo Recreation District approve a permit for such a provocation? This by an agency whose mission statement touts its commitment "to increasing the amount of fun and recreation in your daily life" and its goal "to build community and enhance quality of life." How did such a public display of weaponry "build community" in
or "enhance the quality of [our] life?' Vallejo
Why was the "only concern" of the Vallejo Police Department, according to the Times-Herald, that the "unloaded guns" of the group might be "taken from them?" Did they not note the statement of a member of the group that, in the event of such an incident, the "picknickers" would not "just stand still?" Were they satisfied that, in such an event, the armed men in our park "would not necessarily resort to loading their weapons and shooting at potential robbers." "Not necessarily?" Not necessarily!
Where were the uniformed police to inspect the weapons of these people to ensure that they were indeed unloaded? Is our Police Department not aware that section (e) of the
open carry statute reads as follows: California
"In order to determine whether or not a firearm is loaded for the purpose of enforcing this section, peace officers are authorized to examine any firearm carried by anyone on his or her person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or prohibited area of an unincorporated territory. Refusal to allow a peace officer to inspect a firearm pursuant to this section constitutes probable cause for arrest for violation of this section."
Did they care? Did they care that those of us in the park who disagreed with the armed open carry advocates felt threatened, having no assurance – save their word – that all their weapons were unloaded?
Or was there a plain clothes officer in the crowd, as the unmarked black muscle car suggested? Were that the case and the plain clothes officer tried to take someone's gun, might the officer be mistaken for a "robber," precipitating perhaps a shootout among the children and fishermen on the waterfront? Must the average citizen live with such uncertainty.
Finally – and most appalling of all – was the total silence of the clergy of our city's churches. Where – in God's name – were you? Will you be there next month when the open carry group promises to return? Will you speak out in the meantime to head off another such provocation? And that's what they seek – to provoke an incident. They don't take their guns to
Danville, Walnut Creek, or Orinda. No, they target instead Richmond, Vallejo, and, next week, 's Castro. San Francisco
Let's not play into their hands or roll over next time they apply for a permit. Are we, as some of our ministers insist, a "City of
" that cares about its children? Or are we a city of violence and vigilantes? Do we have any pride or backbone? Do we care about our reputation or will we remain content to let others smear us as the "Armpit of the Bay?" God
And that $600? Send it back to Brad Huffman as quickly as possible. It's blood money. We're not for sale! Not that cheaply!