My daughter Veronika was the love of my life. She was the mathematician, the loyal friend and the caring daughter. She would have recently celebrated her 21st birthday. She had endless opportunities ahead of her.
But suddenly, it was all gone. Veronika was one of seven people killed in the 2014 shooting near UC Santa Barbara, in Isla Vista.
Since her death I have found myself at a loss, wondering what I can do to ensure that no parent has to go through the pain that my wife and I carry with us. I have watched in frustration as too many politicians have responded to the shootings in Santa Barbara, Newtown, Charleston and Virginia Tech with cowardice, polarization and senseless rationalization.
But now, California has a chance to change all that. The Safety for All initiative led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom puts the power back in the people’s hands. Finally, the issues are coming straight to California voters – an overwhelming majority of whom, according to polls, support stronger laws to reduce gun violence.
This initiative will help save an incalculable number of lives by putting in place common-sense reforms. It will place a statewide ban on the possession of large-capacity, military-style magazines that contain 11 rounds or more. It will enact an instant background check system for ammunition purchases – so an individual who is banned from owning a gun cannot buy ammo – and it will require those selling ammunition to have a license to do so, similar to what is required for selling guns. If a person is convicted of a felony, a violent misdemeanor, has a restraining order or has been declared dangerously mentally ill, they will no longer be able to buy ammunition in our state.
Safety for All will keep guns from dangerous criminals by establishing a clear firearms relinquishment process for those convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, and it will clarify the law to ensure that theft of a gun – of any value – is a felony, which will prohibit the thief from owning firearms.
In addition, the initiative will require owners of firearms to report the theft or loss of a firearm within five days and require future state attorneys general to do what the current California Department of Justice does voluntarily: report information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System about people prohibited from owning guns. These reforms will protect our communities and help keep our loved ones safe.
Veronika was responsible and would always be the one to text us and tell us where she was and what she was up to. So when we didn’t hear from her that terrible night, we were worried. We used her “Find my iPhone” app to see if we could find her and saw that her phone was in the middle of one of the shooting spree’s crime scenes. Later that night, we got a call from the police that confirmed our worst fear. No parents should have to learn from an app or a call from the police that their child has been shot.
We no longer have to wait and hope that others will take action – this is our chance to speak up directly, to send a message and to make a difference – by backing Newsom and standing together to support Safety for All in November. We cannot afford to let this opportunity pass us by.
Bob Weiss, a former stay-at-home dad, has dedicated his life to reducing gun violence since the death of his daughter.