It’s a high-stakes gambit that will test whether the Supreme Court actually meant what it said in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson (2021), which held that because of SB 8’s unique style of enforcement, it was immune from meaningful judicial review — and thus would take effect despite very strong arguments that the law was unconstitutional at the time.
Shortly after Jackson was decided last December, Newsom announced that he disagrees with the Supreme Court’s conclusion that states can dodge judicial review of unconstitutional laws. But Newsom also said that, if the Court’s Republican-appointed majority would give this power to states, then he would use it to limit access to firearms.
If states can shield their laws from review by federal courts, then CA will use that authority to help protect lives.
We will work to create the ability for private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in CA. pic.twitter.com/YPBJ00vN6z
Indeed, California’s new gun law, known as SB 1327, is explicit that the new law’s fate is tied to SB 8’s. SB 1327 provides that its SB 8-like provisions “shall become inoperative” if SB 8 is struck down “in its entirety by a final decision of the United States Supreme Court or Texas Supreme Court.”
The state of California, in other words, appears to be trolling the Supreme Court. SB 1327 should force the justices to either overrule Jackson and admit that they were wrong to let states evade the Constitution, or give California’s new gun ban the same immunity from judicial scrutiny that five justices gave SB 8.
“Son take a good look around … This is your hometown.”
— Bruce Springsteen
My hometown is — early cliché alert — a part of me, as big a chunk of who I am and what I became as any DNA strand, any online genealogy search.
I left my hometown some 50 years ago, forced out, feet dragging — collateral damage to my dad’s burgeoning job status.
But my hometown never left me.
I go back every time a journalist’s salary allows and Wrigley Field beckons, always staying at the same hotel near the same hallowed grounds of my insanely blessed youth.
I am Highland Park, Illinois. I always will be.
Highland Park is my hometown.
Yes, that Highland Park.
There is something inherently shallow about making any news story, much less a tragedy like what took place on the Fourth of July, about yourself. Even a hint of it can smack of preening narcissism. A seasoned, highly trained professional doesn’t do that.
And neither do I.
At least not until my town, rolling in privilege and graced with the kind of classic Midwest charm that called out to the cameras of John Hughes, was torn asunder, right at the intersection of evil and tragic.
I can’t possibly imagine the soul-crushing anguish of those innocent parade-goers — from the lives lost to the ones left with wounded psyches as they grieve and attempt to make sense of the senseless.
But that was our Fourth of July Parade, the one I went to so many times, that this pile of filth in makeup desecrated. That was my street, Central Avenue, those bullet casings rattled off of. Right or wrong, it feels distinctly personal. Those were my people whose lives were ruined, on a classic American day, in what has, to our great national shame, become a uniquely American tradition.
Do the lost lives of my town matter more? More than, say, those beautiful souls in Uvalde, Texas — what was it, five minutes ago? They, too, were victims of a madman, another war-time killing machine, but with a historic level of law enforcement incompetence that would be darkly comedic if it wasn’t so sickeningly horrific.
Of course not. But there is a reason we brag about people from our old stomping grounds who made it big — I’m looking at you Rachel Brosnahan, source of my favorite TV character ever, Midge Maisel.
And there is a reason my jaw dropped, my heart sank and my gag reflex cranked into overdrive on the Fourth of July. That reason, that connection, that longtime love affair is why the crawl at the bottom of the screen on a holiday Monday was such a gut punch, as breathtaking as it was tear-inducing.
So no, this isn’t about me.
It’s about Irina and Kevin McCarthy, who saved their now-orphaned son with unimaginable courage and heroism, just down the street from where my U.S. Marine father started me on the path to manhood with a work ethic and strict allowance that never allowed for the spoiled brat-like behavior my opulent surroundings teased us all with.
It’s about Nicolas Toledo, who lost his life just a three-minute walk down the street from my childhood home, whose owners still kindly put up with my occasional, nostalgia-laced drop-ins.
It’s about Jacquelyn Sundheim, who had her life of laughter and generosity blown away just across the street from where I parked my bike so many times for yet another run on baseball cards.
It’s about Stephen Straus, killed just down the street from our iconic — at least it was for us — movie theater (as seen in “Risky Business”), where I fell in love for the first time. Her name was Ann-Margret, and suddenly girls weren’t so gross after all.
It’s about Katherine Goldstein, taken away just down the street from our supposedly “secret” passageway down the stairs next to the park and to the biggest body of water I could imagine — Lake Michigan.
It’s about Eduardo Uvaldo, mowed down blocks away from the bedroom where I would carefully set out my clothes at night for the next day’s trip to the greatest place on Earth — Wrigley Field.
It’s about Cooper Roberts, who deserved so much better from the grownups in Washington, D.C., and the authorities who missed the signs to stop a lunatic in their midst. No farther than a third baseman’s throw to first from where we religiously played baseball, all day, every day, until we couldn’t — and then cranking it back up when we could — a beautiful 8-year-old boy suffered bullet wounds that leave him unable to walk, much less run around the bases, today.
And finally, it’s about damn time … we do something — please, anything — about this mindless carnage. I was an 8-year-old boy when the New York Mets ripped my heart out in the summer of 1969. But I wasn’t shot by an assault-style rifle that nobody outside of the United States military has any business owning.
Most of us not named Marjorie Taylor-What’s Her Face — the wretchedly vile, prodigiously stupid conspiracy queen freak who all too predictably oozed out the poison of this possibly being a “false-flag operation” — know perfectly well what needs to be done.
A ban on all — every last one of them — assault-style, rapid-fire rifles, made specifically for wartime obliteration, to not just take out as many lives as quickly as possible, but to eviscerate the human body as efficiently as possible.
Allowing these weapons into the general populace — much less the hands of confused, teenage zombies — makes for uniquely cruel, obscenely abhorrent public policy.
It’s the kind of disgrace that perhaps doesn’t happen in a country with a congress full of actual public servants, not gutless cowards, supplicant careerists, and eager NRA lapdogs who left their conscience at the House coat check.
And no, that’s not “playing politics.” It’s common sense for the common good. Doing the opposite, to keep your seat of power and your nice parking spot? That’s playing politics.
This simply did not have to happen. It sure as hell didn’t have to happen in my damn town, or any damn town, anywhere. Not on the Fourth of July.
Let’s all take it personally. The alternative — becoming numb to shooting after shooting — is unacceptable.
My precious hometown is a crime scene today, surrounded by yellow police tape and soul-crushing grief.
And that loss, heaped unbearably onto 8 families in Highland Park, 8 of the 11,700 households, is decidedly real. But it’s not just those 8. Horrors and a broken sense of security now haunt the extended families of those 8, and the families of friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors and acquaintances… Highland Park is a lakeside community of 30,000 – now at sea.
The Gun Violence Archive notes that on that same day, July 4, there were five other mass shootings in the US, with 22 others injured and 2 more dead.
In just the first eight days of July, there have been 29 mass shootings in the US, killing 25 and injuring 151. Divide those numbers by eight days: we’ve had 3.6 mass shootings every day, over 3 killed and nearly 20 injured, EVERY DAY IN THE USA so far in July!
But it takes school children or a parade to make our news.
So yes, it seems I’m obsessed with the numbers. But no, I’m obsessed with the pain and the horror and the imbecilic wanton disregard of those who hide behind the 2nd Amendment while the nation falls to pieces.
What will it take, before we follow the wisdom of Australia, Japan, and others?
We need guns off the streets, out of our homes, away from the hands not only of the mentally ill and violently prone, but away from us all. There should be no right to bear 21st century arms in a peace-loving society. What will it take, to tear down the lie that our nation’s founders would stand by while citizens gun each other down for no good reason? What will it take to recognize that a well-armed militia of muskets just simply has nothing whatsoever to do with an AK-47 in the homes and hands of you and me?
March For Our Lives crowd is inspired by Benicia High School Youth and Community Leaders
By Roger Straw, June 11, 2022
Benicia moms and high school youth organized a local rally and march on Saturday, June 11, to call attention to the epidemic of gun violence in the U.S., and to call for sensible legislation to make our schools – and our communities – safer.
A crowd of around 300 rallied at Benicia’s First Street Green overlooking the Carquinez Strait. Attendees received free blue t-shirts with white lettering, “MARCH FOR OUR LIVES” and the colorful crowd heard inspiring speeches before taking to the sidewalks and marching up First Street and back to the Green.
Organizer Alicia Brewster served as MC, welcoming the crowd and thanking everyone, including co-organizers Becca Cannon, Jacquie McCue and others.
Leadoff speaker was Terry Scott, chair of Benicia’s Arts and Culture Commission. Scott shared his experience at Kent State University in 1970 when he witnessed the killing of 4 students and injuring of 9 others. Then he turned to our current epidemic of gun violence, asking, “How high are we willing to set the price to defend an amendment that has been outpaced by technology? How is being shot at schools, malls, churches, grocery stores an expression of freedom? Is it time to agree that the original intent of an antiquated amendment has been co-opted?”
Benicia School Board President Sheri Zada recalled the horrific 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland Florida. That AK-47 massacre triggered the March For Our Lives movement, and Zada was one of the organizers of Benicia’s 2018 March. Zada recalled, “I was with my husband Alan, at lunch one day, crying… and I said, ‘You know what, I can’t just sit by and do nothing.'” She offered sobering statistics, “More than 170 school shootings have happened since Parkland, Florida. 170! Over 950 school shootings have happened since Sandy Hook in 2012…. You’ve got to realize that it’s an epidemic in our country. Guns are the leading cause of death in American children and teens.” Zada got enthusiastic applause as she wondered what can be done, “Well, the first thing I did when I got into office is that I made sure there is a resolution passed in our School Board that would not allow our teachers to be armed, ever.”
Three students representing Benicia High School followed.
“I am here speaking to you today because I am fifteen, and I am tired,” said Bella Cannon, Sophomore Class President of Benicia High School. Bella’s litany of “I am tired” statements illustrated the sorry state of so many of our kids in schools these days. “I am tired of being scared to go to school every day. I am tired of being worried about my 10-year-old sister and 13-year-old brother when we all leave the house every morning….I am tired of worrying if we are all going to make it home.”
Benicia High’s 2022 senior class valedictorian Juhi Yadav followed, and made a profound point, “If you want a gun, the government says that you get to have it, virtually unconditionally. You have a right. But is it right that you have it?” It took a minute, but the crowd’s understanding slowly bloomed, as did the applause. Yadav continued, “In response to tragic and despicable instances of violence, like that in Texas just weeks ago, lobbyists and lawmakers love to enter a fantasy world, where guns are used to protect innocent families from armed gunmen. At every step of the way, they ask, but what if just one of these teachers had been armed – how would the story have changed? The answer is painfully clear. It wouldn’t.”
Benicia High Junior Michael Delgado added a rather stark and shocking perspective. “Three weeks ago, when we heard the news that nineteen children had been murdered in a public school, none of us were surprised,” he began. “These children are the pure among us, the innocent among us, and the most vulnerable among us. They are our future. Time and time again, we watch, and stand idly by, while they are taken from us. A society which allows its future to be slaughtered is a sick society….”
Benicia Poet Laureate Mary Susan Gast concluded the pre-march ceremonies, sharing three poems. Tragically and movingly, the first poem, by former Benicia poet laureate Johanna Ely, was written four years ago, on the occasion of Benicia’s 2018 March For Our Lives, a poem titled, I am tired of waking up to the faces of dead children…. Dr. Gast then read two of her own poems, beginning with One Who Survived Uvalde, describing the heartbreaking story of Miah Cerrillo, who survived the Uvalde massacre by smearing herself with blood of a dead classmate and playing dead. Gast’s final poem, A Plea to Legislators began, “Deliver us from slaughter,” and ended with the crowd joining in a crescendo of cries, “Do something. Do SOMETHING. DO SOMETHING!”
The sidewalks of First Street, Benicia – June 11, 2022
Marchers returned to the First Street Green for closing remarks and a commemoration of 21 flowers for the 21 who were murdered in Uvalde Texas.
Benicia Mayor Steve Young reported that “There has been a mass shooting every day since Uvalde, and 1500 since Sandy Hook.” He added, “In 1994, Congress passed an assault weapons ban, and in the next ten years, mass shootings declined by 43%. Republicans undid the ban in 2004, and mass shootings have increased 239%. Coincidence?” The Mayor’s best line came at the end, and got a big cheer from the crowd: “The only way to stop a bad politician with a vote is with a good citizen with a vote!”
Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown added, “Together, we need to elect US senators who believe in our cause. Background checks, a 30 day wait to get a gun…. An example is the recent Tulsa shooting at the hospital. He bought a gun at 2 and by 5pm, 4 were dead plus the shooter. We might say enough is enough, but the effort must be daily until November 7. 2022.”
Mel Orpilla, Senior staff for Benicia’s U.S. representative Mike Thompson, read a message from Thompson, who chairs the House Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce. Thompson has long led an effort to pass universal background checks. “This week,” wrote Thompson, “the House passed two vital bills that join my Bipartisan Background Checks Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act as gun violence prevention legislation that the House has sent to the Senate.” He continued, “The bills we passed will save lives by raising the age to purchase an assault rifle, restricting large capacity magazines, going after gun traffickers, stopping ghost guns and bump stocks and requiring the safe storage of firearms. The pressure is now on Senate Republicans to do their job and vote for these policies that are overwhelmingly supported by the American people.”
The rally concluded with a touching memorial reading of the names of the nineteen children and two teachers murdered in Uvalde, Texas. As the names were read, March speakers, organizers and supporters were thanked one by one, and presented with one of nineteen individual flowers representing those we lost in Uvalde.
Video of Highlights by Dr. Constance Beutel (28 minutes) Return to top