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There are three dead and 15 wounded, most of them seriously, late Sunday at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival. The long-running food festival with live music has become the latest scene of mass-shooting horror in Gilroy, 70 miles south of San Francisco.

Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting

Authorities have determined that a 19-year-old gunman with an assault weapon cut his way through a fence to avoid metal detectors and gain access to the site. Whether that male gunman had an accomplice is being investigated.

It happened at about 5:40 pm Sunday, July 28th. TinMan, the closing band of the festival, was back on stage for an encore. Band leader Christian Swain reports that band members clearly saw the gunman approaching "to the left of the stage, with an assault rifle."

The shooting lasted less than a minute. Initially, the crowd heard pops and looked up expecting closing fireworks. Then, sudden realization. People ran, there was screaming, the band took refuge under the stage, and uniformed police and security were reportedly there, in force, in just over the minute that it took to happen.

The gunman, initially reported to have escaped, was later determined to have been killed by police.

The three dead at the festival include Stephen Romero, a six-year-old boy, whose mother and grandmother were both wounded.

Musician Swain is effusive with praise for law enforcement's response. He added, "By the time I got home, police from all over the Bay Area were there, helping with the investigation."

When asked what he thinks this means for the future of festivals, given the mass shooting at the country music festival in Las Vegas in 2017, and now this in Gilroy, he had a lot to say:

"I want to emphasize that security at this festival was great. Police and security had been visible everywhere all weekend. They responded so fast, and still this could happen. How many times DOES this have to happen? I can't help but wonder what this means when a single event takes so many police out of their local communities, where they're needed to take care of problems, to come to one place because this has happened and it seems that it just keeps happening. When will we do something about it?"

Three innocents dead. Fifteen wounded by gunshots, some of them maimed for life. Many more with emotional scars and trauma. Many who were not there whose lives are suddenly upended by hospital vigils and recovery regimens and rehabilitation of loved ones who are facing very different futures. How many lives altered? How many who will attend funerals and forever live with loss?

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The latest additions to a list that should not exist. Names of more victims living and the dead added to those of the 17 dead and 17 wounded at Parkland, and the 32 dead and 17 wounded at Virginia Tech, and the 13 dead and 21 wounded at Columbine, and the 27 dead and 2 wounded at Sandy Hook, and the 11 dead and 6 wounded at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the 9 dead and 1 wounded at the church in Charleston—and the 58 dead and 422 wounded at the music festival in Vegas. And on, and on, and on.

It hasn't even been two years since the October, 2017, Route 91 Country Music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, became the scene of America's worst mass shooting. That left 59 people killed and 527 wounded by a single gunman shooting from a high-rise hotel room that he had made his sniper's nest. To date, nobody knows why.

And now, a fence cut through by another mass murderer with another assault rifle. A specific and ever-recurring class of military combat weapon in civilian hands.

And now, a fence cut through by another mass murderer with another assault rifle. A specific and ever-recurring class of military combat weapon in civilian hands.

A weapon that continues to cause more death of the innocent in a nation supposedly at peace than it causes in the hands of US combat troops overseas, where it is used in war to fire upon armed enemies.

And let's get something straight. Those whose bodies are invaded by bullets are not "injured." They are wounded. Using the word "injured"—the same term used for falling off a ladder or poking yourself with scissors —has become infuriating mediaspeak that robs the victims of the shock the rest of us should feel. It can't help but make you question the reach of the gun lobby's influence on how events are characterized by reporting.

Too much rhetoric is expended on the "unique problems of individuals who do these things," while assault weapons are all over the American landscape like dog sh*t and cigarette butts. The economic and political clout of the gun lobby in America knows no bounds. And again the innocent have paid the price.

Will it all translate into ever-escalating security, expensive armed presences of "the good guys with the guns," paid-for by host communities, venues, increased vendor fees, higher insurance premiums, and ultimately, by ticket buyers? Will that financial impact prove to be crushing, and become the undoing of festivals in armed-to-the-teeth America? Should we expect to travel to Canada or Europe or Australia or New Zealand Or Japan to attend festivals in the future? Or will we finally demand our do-nothing, campaign-cash-collecting politicians deal with the supply side of the equation?

Yes, "supply side." Conservative politicians are effusive advocates for "supply-side economics," yet they are evasive and intransigent when it comes to cutting-off the endless supply of military assault weapons to a civilian American public.

2020 is an election year. As are too many things that matter, when our bought-and-paid-for political class caters only to "corpirate" campaign cash, and politicians with agendas appoint judges with agendas, it is left to "We, the people," to see past the expensive ads and the corporate media spins and agendas and determine our own future. It all comes down to that, or to more grieving with the same bloviating politicians telling us "to pray."

"If you don't know history, you don't know anything. You're a leaf that doesn't know it is part of the tree."—Michael Crichton.


Larry Wines