It's far too easy to imagine a school shooting happening here in La Cañada. Guns are just too popular. A large number of residents of the city are gun enthusiasts, based on information volunteered by local residents and corroborated by frequent reports in the Valley Sun of guns stolen from homes and cars.
While guns overwhelmingly serve two purposes — suicide and murder of a domestic partner — they do also make their way onto the secondary market to be used in gang warfare and to terrorize and bereave poor communities. Regardless, a huge number of our neighbors embrace gun ownership as their solemn responsibility. This perceived "freedom" has resulted in 22 million children in the U.S. living in a home with a gun.
As long as gun ownership, and indeed, using guns for sport and target practice, is socially acceptable among, for example, the ladies-who-lunch, our kids will not be safe. The connection is direct. Cultural acceptance of firearms, right here in La Cañada and in other La Cañadas has led to the ubiquity of guns, and ultimately feeds the market for firearms including AR-15s. As long as we feel it proper and necessary to accessorize ourselves with guns, the result will be shootings.
And "common sense" gun regulation is not even the point. Before the escalation in the number of mass shootings even slows, there would need to be a widespread cultural shift in perspective in places like La Cañada toward seeing gun ownership more like (for example) genital mutilation — cruel, unfair, disempowering to those already weak, dangerous and disgusting.
La Cañada Flintridge
Arbor Day 2018 is on April 27. To celebrate it, I suggest the city of La Cañada Flintridge plant a native tree for support of biodiversity, the local food web and ecosystem. One of the best local native tree species for supporting migrating and year-round birds, as well as all types of pollinators, is blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea). This is one of the most important trees for California birds.
For Arbor Day, rather than continue to plant nonnative tree species that starve co-evolutionary food web relationships, the city should plant a native species for maximum benefit. Given the environmental challenges we face, from the driest winter on record in Southern California, to unseasonal extreme heat, to loss of insect and animal species that deliver essential ecosystem services, La Cañada Flintridge needs to choose plants that offer not only beauty and drought tolerance, but support for our struggling biosphere. Blue elderberry is a good way to start.
La Cañada Flintridge
The writer is a member of Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti's Urban Ecosystem Working Group & Biodiversity Expert Council and director of outreach for the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants.