A Letter from Lois Capps to Isla Vista

Dear I.V. Community,

A little over a week ago, Isla Vista — and our community as a whole — was rocked by unspeakable violence. We lost six people. Six Gauchos, classmates, roommates and friends.

Together, we mourn this loss.

Isla Vista remains a special place for many, including me personally. Both my husband and I have spent a lot of time on campus and we lived in faculty housing just past I.V., near Sands, when we first moved here. So while the type of violence happening here is shocking, I know that the incredible community response is not.

It will take time to heal, and I have no doubt that we will. But we must not forget.

I have heard the frustration in the voices of those who grieve like Richard Martinez, father to Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, as he remembered his son and called for action. Far too often have we, as a nation, seen tragedy, but little changes to prevent it in the future.

This tragedy has shown us the gaps. We must ensure that our mental health system and law enforcement can work together to identify potentially dangerous individuals. We must help parents who are concerned that their sons or daughters might be a danger to himself, herself or others so that they have a meaningful way to seek help. And we need systems to make sure that threats of violence flagged on social media are taken seriously.

I have been in Washington this week already getting to work on some of these efforts. I was pleased that the entire California delegation joined me to lead a moment of silence on the floor of the House of Representatives on behalf of all those affected by this tragedy. Many of my colleagues have also joined my resolution in support of the I.V. community. In addition, on Friday I helped introduce a bill to start addressing ways to improve the interaction of our mental health and gun safety systems.

But there is more to do. Over the next few weeks I will be meeting with local and national advocates on these issues and others to identify the gaps and weak spots in the system, and propose ways to fix them.

Together we must not let Congress forget about Isla Vista or any of the number of places that have experienced this type of senseless violence.
We must act. We must act now on sensible, responsible violence prevention legislation for our nation. Because I agree that Not One More life should be lost. Not One More family should have to grieve like this. And Not One More community should be added to this list.

I will be hosting a Coffee with your Congresswoman event Thursday, June 5 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Caje Coffee on Embarcadero del Norte in Isla Vista. I’d love for you to join me so that we can have a conversation about your experiences over the last couple of weeks and what you would like to see Congress doing to ensure there is #NotOneMore tragedy.

Lois Capps is the U.S. Representative for California’s 24th congressional district.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, June 5, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
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