100 days since the Borderline shooting: A guest column in VC Star

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This article was originally published in VC Star and can be read here. 

Guest column: 100 days since the Borderline shooting

Feb. 14 marks 100 days since the Borderline mass shooting.

What has been done in these one hundred days:

Four hours after the shooting: The Reunification Center opens at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center for families who can’t locate their loved ones.

Day 1: Ventura County Community Foundation, in coordination with the City of Thousand Oaks, establishes a victim’s fund. Gavin Newsom, acting governor, orders flags flown at half-staff.

Day 2: County opens a Victims Assistance Center with grief services, emergency funding for survivors, and help in returning possessions, assisting 300 people.

Day 7: The first funeral of the Borderline 12 is held.

Day 8: The funeral for Sergeant Ron Helus is held.

Day 25: Ventura County Board of Supervisors votes 3-2 to call on the State Fair Board to cease contracting for new gun shows at the fairgrounds. AB 12 is introduced, making it easier for police to collect guns when issuing a gun violence restraining order.

Day 26: AB 61 is introduced, a bill that adds an employer, a coworker, or school employee to those who can request a gun violence restraining order when they believe a person is a danger to themselves or others.

Day 28: We learn that Sgt. Helus was struck in the heart by friendly fire, causing his death.

Day 36: A Community Mental Health Day at the Growing Works nursery brings people together to build a compost area for flowers left at the temporary Borderline memorial, which will be used to grow acorns into oaks to give back to the community.

Day 62: Governor proposes $145 million for detection and treatment of mental illness, including on college campuses, plus $5.6 million to seize firearms from a backlog of over 10,000 people who were ordered to relinquish their guns.

Day 81: The last memorial of the Borderline 12 is held.

Day 82: First responders, victims’ families and Thousand Oaks officials attend a State Capitol reception. Lorrie Dingman, whose son Blake was killed, implores the Governor to keep guns away from severely mentally ill people. Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin introduces a resolution naming a segment of the 101 Freeway near the Borderline in honor of Sgt. Helus for his heroism.

Day 83: FBI releases report finding no motivating factor behind Las Vegas shooter, other than a desire for infamy.

Day 88: Forum on Gun Violence includes Susan Orfanos, whose son Tel survived the Las Vegas mass shooting only to die in one in his hometown. Her plea for gun control is followed by Sen. Henry Stern’s quest for common ground to prevent further gun violence. Assemblymember Irwin and Sheriff Bill Ayub speak on needed legislation. Supervisor Steve Bennett notes our nation has both the highest gun ownership and number of gun deaths. Supervisor Linda Parks announces the formation of a task force.

Day 93: County forms Task Force on Mental Health Triage and Safety, includes representatives from Ventura County Sheriff, District Attorney, Public Defender, Behavioral Health, Health Care Agency, County Executive Office, Schools, Veterans Services and Courts.

Day 97: A few Westboro Baptist Church members hold signs — including one that says “God sent the shooter” — in front of Thousand Oaks High School. About one hundred counter-protesters line the street, spreading messages of love.

Day 100: Feb. 14 marks not only 100 days since the Borderline mass shooting, but also one year since Parkland. So on this Valentine’s Day, hold your loved ones close and say I love you. Be “#TO Strong,” honor those whose lives were lost, and join us in doing all we can to make a difference to prevent this senseless violence.

Linda Parks represents District 2 on the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. Assembly member Jacqui Irwin represents the 44th District.

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