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By Jonathan Goetz

Photo: Cheri Robertson and Vicki Shepperd Chin

February 20, 2018 (El Cajon) - Gun violence was at issue on Monday, President's Day, to protesters outside of Congressman Duncan D. Hunter Jr.'s office in El Cajon. Approximately 25 people showed up to hold signs and an American flag to protest Hunter's acceptance of National Rifle Association (NRA) money and his opposition to gun safety legislation.

In 2001, East County was the scene of school shootings at Santana and Granite Hills High schools. 

Monday’s protest comes on the heels of yet another mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where a gunman armed with a legally purchased assault weapon murdered 17 people, most of them students.

Marie Minnick, who identified herself as a mom, told East County Magazine, “I'm tired of seeing people killed with semi-automatic weapons.”

Vicki Shepperd Chin (photo above right), with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action and a newly forming group San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention, said. “We're protesting today because Duncan Hunter takes money from the NRA and does not promote gun safety legislation. They're keeping us from getting laws passed that will make it safer for our children and families: sensible gun laws like background checks on all gun purchases, and an assault weapons ban. Duncan Hunter is a cosponsor of a bill called conceal carry reciprocity, which allows people from other states with terrible gun laws to bring their guns here in a State with good gun laws.”

Cheri Robertson, with Indivisible and Together We Will (pictured above left), commented about how much worse the March 2001 school shootings at Santana and Granite Hills High Schools could have been if those shooters had assault weapons, which were illegal to purchase at that time nationwide. Those shooters were armed with a pistol and a shotgun. Two students died and 13 were injured at Santana High. At Granite Hills, just two weeks later, a school resource officer was able to stop the shooter before any one was killed, though several teachers and students were wounded.

Opponents of gun control have argued that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  They point to other root causes such as mental illness. While better diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders would undoubtedly help reduce such tragedies, gun control advocates point to statistics documenting the indisputable evidence that restricting assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines has saved lives—and argue that a federal ban should be reinstated now to protect people from massacres not only at schools, but venues ranging from a concert in Las Vegas to a church in Texas.

Since the federal ban on assault weapons and large ammunition magazines implemented in 1994 was rolled back in 2004, the number of gun massacres has shot up 193 percent and the number of people dying from mass shootings has risen 239 percent, the Washington Post reports.

During the 10-year-ban, mass shootings nationally fell 37 percent and deaths from mass shootings dropped 43 percent.

Jeff Olivero, a local school principal, told East County Magazine that he was attending because of “my deep concern over access to weapons, safeguards for who can have them and who can't, and the magnitude of what's available to the public. There needs to be real legislation to look at the safeguards to protect the public, and, in my line of work, to protect the kids.”

Maggie Murphy, with Change Begins with Me, said, “I am disgusted and horrified and so fed up with all these shootings and it has to stop.” Attending the rally is “my small way to make a difference,” she adds.

Heather Melone, an attorney, said, “My heart's breaking for our kids and this society they're growing up in, the fear they have to face every time they go into school. Our Congress isn't doing anything to enact sensible gun control and as a constituent of Duncan Hunter I want to come out and voice my frustration with his lack of action.”

The protest locally is part of a national movement to pressure lawmakers to restrict access to assault-style weapons and ammunition that enables mass shootings.  Students from the Parkland, Florida school say that they will lead a nationwide “March for our Lives” on March 24 with demonstrations targeted in Washington D.C. and cities across the nation. People wishing to participate locally, or in D.C., can sign up at

ECMasked Hunter’s office for a response regarding gun violence concerns, but we did not receive a reply.

In his 2008 campaign, Hunter listed his position on guns as follows, according to On the Issues: “I believe the 2nd Amendment is clear and that government should pass no law that restricts the right of any law-abiding citizen to purchase, own and legally use firearms.”



25 people showed up for a protest. I am totally impressed.

Mr Goetz,

Mr Goetz,

Thank you for the reply. Emotions run high on this and many topics and facts are often missed by all sides.
Your offer for story suggestions is welcomed and I will be in touch.

One thing that has long interested me and many others in Imperial and San Diego counties is the old railroad especially the history of the trestle in Goat Canyon and the story of the last of the Buffalo Soldiers who did guard duty during WWII.

Thanks again Jonathan

Deserttrek-- good story ideas!

Folks may disagree on politics but everyone loves reading about our local history. I'm a huge history fan myself!

We've done some coverage in the past on the old "Impossible Railway" line and efforts to revive it, but it's probably time for an update. Do you happen to have any sources you suggest we interview?

On the Buffalo soldiers, we need some tech help! One of our recent interns and I actually went to the Buffalo Soldiers Museum, as well as the railway, and did interviews but the recordings on his iphone seem to be incompatible with Audacity, my sound editing program. I've asked a lot of people and can't get anyone who knows how to convert them.  He did convert to mp3 files after recording but apparently Apple's Mp3 files are different and all I can hear is white noise when I open in Audacity, so I can't edit any of them. I do have the original files and can listen, just not edit and they're way too long to run as is.

If any reader can help please email me at




NRA donations

Check out this link to find out who accepted donations, and in what amounts from the NRA. Duncan Hunter for example: $12,000.

Even 1 shooting is unacceptable

Just one source - facts according to - "7 intentional shootings that occurred during normal school hours" and a number of other incidents involving guns. Do the statistics matter all that much when young kids are losing their lives because of a deranged killer? Do people really need military assault style weapons? Same with the so called 'bump stocks'. I am a gun advocate and would like to see the 'open carry' right to be reinstated in California, but there must be some type of controls exerted on the public because there are some people who seem to have little or no control on their bad behavior. Unfortunately, the criminals will no doubt always be able to outgun the police and most certainly the public. AK47's and similar weapons can be purchased illegally if one has the connections. Deep background checks on gun purchasers is a must, and that may deter some horrific acts, but not all. We cannot ban every device capable of killing another human being either. Common sense should prevail here. Fences, armed security and metal detectors at all schools would be a start.

Thank you Deserttrek

Thank you so much for the correction Deserttrek, I really appreciate it! The President often says, "someone said..." even when it's been debunked as a lie. I do not have the same disregard for the truth. I feel terrible that I quoted something that isn't true. Thank you for the correction! I spoke with Miriam and she said, "I thought I caught that," so I sent her an email asking her to delete the quote you debunked with a credible source. I'm so sorry that slipped by me, I really apologize, and am so grateful for you for not only telling me that it was not true, but also citing a credible source. Thank you Deserttrek!!! It should be taken off the site today. If you ever want to chat, or send me a story idea, my email address is my first name (jonathan)