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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Crazy people with guns

Uploaded: Jan 30, 2011
This isn't my usual blog entry. It isn't about San Ramon or local politics. It's about a national issue that recently hit closer to home. I do not include names of people or places in this story out of respect for the family's privacy.

About a month ago my mother phoned to tell me a distant cousin had been murdered outside his store. He was found shot in the head by a customer. The first speculation was that it was either an attempted robbery or a former business partner.

Mother asked if I remembered him and it took me awhile to recall him. He and his brother were the sons of the son of my mother's first cousin, so I'm not quite sure what level of cousin that made him to me. I remembered his parents better, but I remembered him too.

He was 22 years younger than I am and we met only a few times at family gatherings. He was probably in High School the last time I saw him, which was about 30 years ago. My mother told me she has a photo of me sitting next to him on the couch. I had forgotten about it.

I do remember that he was a nice, mature kid. I thought his older brother was better looking, but my Mother, who still keeps in touch with all of her extended family, said he was the responsible one with a good business and a wife and three children.

He was highly thought of and respected in his community. He was described in the newspapers as very honest in his business dealings, kind and generous, and willing to help people even if they couldn't afford to pay. Everyone who knew him was devastated by the shooting.

The police arrested a suspect on January 5th. The accused killer is a 21 year old man who is clearly paranoid. He confessed to hunting down his victims, shooting and killing them because he thought they were gay and coming onto him.

My cousin was not gay but even if he was, it's crazy to shoot a total stranger because of some perceived "look" he gave you. This was a senseless act by a disturbed young man who was on the way to becoming a serial killer. He also confessed to shooting his 64 year old neighbor for this same, crazy reason. The only good thing to come out of these tragedies is that the killer was caught before he could kill anyone else.

So now we have another young man, not unlike Jared Loughner in Tucson or Cho-Seung Hui at Virginia Tech, who used a gun to shoot innocent people because of mental illness that wasn't treated. Instead he was able to buy a gun with no background check or way to stop him.

I'm not against citizens owning guns. I used to target shoot in the past. I even joined the NRA 20+ years ago to use a target range in Santa Monica. I found target shooting very relaxing.

However, the NRA has to get off its horse and take some responsibility for keeping guns out of the hands of crazy people. It's far too easy for anyone to buy a gun without a proper background check.

The NRA should be more like the AAA. You would never think of letting anyone buy a car and drive it in anyway they pleased without a license or training in how to use it. If licensing was required, fewer nut cases would be able to buy or own guns or at least not legally.

My cousin was 46 years old. He leaves a widow and three daughters. May he Rest in Peace.

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Posted by Bob P., a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 31, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Roz, my condolences to your family. Senseless loss of life, whether by violence or drug abuse is tragic.

Posted by MLOliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 31, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Roz, I'm so very sorry about this tragedy in your family. As you said the only positive is the shooter was stopped before he can kill anyone else. I would also agree with you that more must be done to keep unstable people from being able to buy guns of any kind. The mandatory waiting period for purchasing handguns in CA is a good start, but more should be done.

Posted by H. Sachs, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 31, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Roz- you are spot on, we need to toughen laws on who owns guns. I hope Congress can work towards targeting ammunition sales wait times and background checks. With the availablility of gun shows nationwide, and the black market or pawn shops,gun availability is just out of control. How senseless and sad for his wife and children.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jan 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

I know many guns used in crimes have been stolen or purchased illegally on the black market. My rifles and a shotgun were stolen from my house in the 1980's. I did not replace them and gave up target shooting after that.

Not only are there crazy people out there with guns, there are too many accidental shootings. The wife of a co-worker of mine was killed when she was playing with one of his guns she thought wasn't loaded.

I have a motto (call it Rozism #11): "Never point a gun at anything you don't intend to shoot." I only shot at paper targets, but I always handled a gun as if it was loaded even if I thought it wasn't.


Posted by Hunter Ken, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 17, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Experienced gun owners know you don't load a gun unless you are about to shoot it (ie at the range or in the field). And you store your guns in a gun safe or with trigger locks. It amazes me how many people load up their guns and leave them lying around for unknowing family members to harm themselves. I'm a hunter and skeet shooter, but am all for more mandatory gun handling training before purchase. It might help weed out the crazies too. I also believe many types of automatic guns ought to be banned as they serve no sporting purpose and are a plague on our society. Needless to say I won't join the NRA.

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