On Dec.14, I was sitting in a session of the Los Angeles City Council for a pending council matter when a news flash came across my iPhone on the Newtown, Conn. school shooting. My heart sank and a shiver went through my body like it did for so many other people across our country.
The eerie coincidence for me was that later that afternoon, employees at Southern California Edison, where I work, were observing a moment of silence for the colleagues we lost almost exactly a year ago when an employee committed the same kind of rampage in the workplace.
That experience is still very vivid for me as I was on the front lines of helping manage through the traumatic event, working with families who are forever impacted by the tragic experience.
When I got home, I read posts on Facebook from a friend and former colleague from Washington, D.C. who initially posted that her brother-in-law and sister-in-law were awaiting word to see if their niece Gracie was among the Connecticut victims, asking for prayers for her well-being.
Then the Facebook posts turned for the worse when news arrived that Gracie was one of the dozens of children who had been killed.
This tragedy then got closer with a few degrees of separation and was yet another reminder of the hundreds of families that will now be coping with the effects of the shooting for the rest of their lives. This is not to mention the trauma that everyone at that school will carry for a long time.
My intent is not to tackle the entire gun-control issue and whether people have a right to own guns. That is a big issue that on a high level loses the human connection.
The issue for me on the ground level, however, has a live example in Glendale. The Glendale Gun Show comes to town three times annually in March, August and around Thanksgiving. It is held at the Glendale Civic Auditorium, which is city property, and where gun dealers display and sell all types of guns.
What makes it more bewildering for me is that the Civic Auditorium is across the street from Glendale Community College on one side, the Armenian Catholic Church on the other, a playground one block north and a residential neighborhood where I live on the fourth side.
Every time this show comes to town and their large signs go up on the auditorium property I have a bad reaction to it, especially for where it is held and particularly the one held on the eve of Thanksgiving. It just doesn’t sit right.
The City Council considered banning the sale of firearms on city property in 2001 and 2006. The time has come to review our position on this issue again.
Why hasn’t the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees addressed this gun show held facing the campus with thousands of students walking by it each time? I’m equally surprised more people in Glendale have not spoken up about the gun show, gun sales in Glendale in general or even violent video game sales -- all parts of the same ecosystem.
The Connecticut shootings should serve as a wake up call and catalyst for us to take meaningful steps now.
The city should start by turning down the Glendale Gun Show business out of principle, and if that means we have to pass an ordinance, let’s do it. Decades ago, the City Council made a similar decision when it came to hosting boxing fights at the Civic Auditorium, but somehow guns are more acceptable than boxing?
I am sure there will be financial arguments made, since the Civic Auditorium has difficulty covering expenses every year. But taking a stand on this issue is more important than finances as it says something about our city.
For me, this is about leadership and I hope we will see City Council step up to this challenge in the New Year.
ZANKU ARMENIAN is a resident of Glendale and a corporate communications and public affairs professional. He can be reached at email@example.com.