By Cesar Escalante
WASHINGTON — Richard Martinez brought his message of “not one more” to the nation’s capital Tuesday in response to a surge in mass shootings in America that took the life of his son last month.
Martinez lost his son, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, in the Isla Vista rampage of May 23, which claimed the lives of five others. His emotional cry of “not one more” has been adopted by the Everytown for Gun Safety organization.
Through a section of its website — everytown.org/notonemore — Everytown has is facilitating the sending of “not one more” postcards to political leaders.
The message is ” ‘Not One More’ American should be killed by senseless gun violence,” according to an Everytown news release.
More than 600,000 Americans have signed up, and for each one of them, Everytown has pledged to mail postcards to each individual’s House member, two senators and governor. More than 2.4 million postcards are expected to be delivered.
“Chris was smart, kind, generous, funny, and a fierce competitor in sports and school,” Martinez said Tuesday at the National Press Club. “Just before he died, he was holding the door to the deli open so that others could enter ahead of him. That’s how we raised him, and that’s the kind of kid he was.”
The Isla Vista shooting near the UC Santa Barbara campus is among the 74 school shootings that have taken place since the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, which claimed the lives of six adults and 20 children.
Erica Lafferty, an outreach associate for Everytown whose mother, Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, was among those killed, told the press club audience, “Those of us who have had our lives devastated by gun violence are not going away.”
Lafferty said “deadly loopholes in our background check system exist, (which) allow criminals to go online into gun shows and buy guns with no questions asked.”
The elder Martinez, a 1983 graduate of the UC Davis School of Law, quoted Tom Mauser, who lost his son, Daniel, in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado: “Something is wrong in this country when a child can grab a gun so easily and shoot a bullet into the middle of a child’s face.”
“Daniel Mauser has been dead 15 years and what has been done?” Martinez asked.
A total of 13 were killed by two disgruntled Columbine students who ultimately took their own lives.
Dave Hoover, who lost his niece in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting that took the lives of 12 people in July 2012, urged Congress to “close the loophole.”
“The American dream in this country does not include the senseless murder of men, women, and children,” he said.
Last year, the Senate rejected an expanded background-checks bill after a concerted lobbying campaign by the National Rifle Association.
Hoover said that although he has always been a Republican, he will not vote for Republican candidates if “Republican leaders are not willing to take the step that they need to take to protect our children and our families in our communities.”
Advocates behind the “not one more” campaign insist opposition to gun violence is a bipartisan issue.
“This is not an issue about who is pro- or anti-gun. This is an issue about, ‘Will you stand up for your fellow Americans? Will you do what needs to be done and show the political courage that needs to be shown in this time,’ ” asked Peter Read, who lost his daughter in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
“It doesn’t matter what party you belong to,” Read said. “We are you and you are us. We are parents, we are teachers, and we are students … we come from every walk of life, and we say `enough.’ We need our elected leaders to show the political courage we elected them to show.”
— Reach Cesar Escalante at [email protected]