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College students Birgen Grueskin, left, and Bella Blaylock join in a Wear Orange demonstration advocating for gun safety along North Coast Highway 101 on Saturday in Encinitas. Photo by Laura Place
College students Birgen Grueskin, left, and Bella Blaylock join in a Wear Orange demonstration advocating for gun safety along North Coast Highway 101 on Saturday in Encinitas. Photo by Laura Place
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Residents rally for gun safety in Encinitas during Wear Orange weekend 

ENCINITAS — Birgen Grueskin and Bella Blaylock of Carlsbad will never forget the day in second grade when a shooter entered their Kelly Elementary School campus in Carlsbad in 2010.

Now college students in their 20s, these young women could be seen advocating for common-sense gun laws during a Wear Orange rally on Saturday in Encinitas. 

The two women joined over 120 residents along North Coast Highway 101 for the event, one of several taking place throughout the nation in commemoration of Wear Orange weekend.

The event takes place every June to commemorate those harmed by gun violence, with organizers noting a larger turnout this year following the devastating May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 students and two teachers dead. 

“It kind of touches us more,” said Grueskin, a student at Arizona State University. “I would really like to see this stop happening. That [the shooting in 2010] was 12 years ago, and it’s going to keep happening without change.” 

Families and individuals joined North County Moms Demand Action in Encinitas on Saturday for an annual Wear Orange demonstration advocating for gun safety. Photo by Laura Place
Families and individuals joined North County Moms Demand Action in Encinitas on Saturday for an annual Wear Orange demonstration advocating for gun safety. Photo by Laura Place

The event was organized by members of the North County chapter of Moms Demand Action, a national organization advocating for safety measures to protect against gun violence. The group began with just four people, including resident Jesse Bry, following the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. 

“The four of us were doing this for years. The day after Uvalde, we were like, ‘People are gonna want to do something,’ so we gave them somewhere to land,” Bry said. “A massive shooting brings people out, but the problem is they don’t sustain it. We need people to sustain the movement beyond today.” 

Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49), who spoke to the crowd about the need for increased common sense gun legislation alongside Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, noted the U.S. House of Representatives has made progress on important legislation such as the 2021 Bipartisan Background Checks Act.

However, Levin said the upcoming election will be important toward ensuring ongoing gun control reform on the national level. 

“We still have those senators who are unwilling, unable to see reality — the reality that we have a unique crisis in this country that we can only address proactively, like we have done in the State of California,” Levin said. 

Over 100 residents attended an annual Wear Orange gun safety demonstration along North Coast Highway 101 in Encinitas on Saturday, organized by North County Moms Demand Action. Photo by Laura Place
Over 100 residents attended an annual Wear Orange gun safety demonstration along North Coast Highway 101 on Saturday in Encinitas. The event was organized by North County Moms Demand Action. Photo by Laura Place

Residents who have served in the armed forces also encouraged fellow veterans and military families to join in the fight for common sense gun policies, particularly safe storage, since people who are opposed to gun restrictions may be willing to listen to them.

“We have a very legitimate and credible voice that we are not using. If you are a veteran, if you’re a military family member, please start speaking out about the requirements of responsible gun ownership,” said Army veteran Karin Brennan.

Joseph Rocha, a candidate running for the 40th State Senate District seat and attendee at Saturday’s event, described the need for more people to understand the importance of safety, training and accountability when it comes to firearms, speaking from his own military experience. 

Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49) voices his support for gun safety laws during a Wear Orange event along North Coast Highway 101 on Saturday in Encinitas. Photo by Laura Place
Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49) voices his support for gun safety laws during a Wear Orange event along North Coast Highway 101 on Saturday in Encinitas. Photo by Laura Place

“This issue is important to me because of the tremendous loss of life we’ve seen, and particularly the loss of young children’s lives. We have the responsibility as a country to prevent this from happening,” Rocha said. “I made the decision to join the military and that was to defend constitutional rights, but there is no constitutional right to the mass murder of children.”

The United States has seen over 230 mass shootings so far this year, according to The Washington Post, making the number of people who have experienced gun violence grow every day.

Blaylock is one of those people, and while no one thankfully died during the shooting at her North County elementary school in 2010, the number of gun violence incidents since then has been too high to count. She wants to see change. 

“Make it a little bit harder to get guns, so that people who aren’t using them for the right purposes can’t,” Blaylock said. 

1 comment

steve333 June 6, 2022 at 1:18 pm

Blakespear should shut her mouth considering her making Encinitas a magnet for transients has created a huge spike in crime all over Encinitas.
Joe Kerr is the only real Democrat running for State Senate, not Developer funded DINO Blakespear.
ABB

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