Voting NO in the California recall election is about protecting our communities from gun violence
Cindy Montoya 9.13.2021
As a Latina, gun violence survivor, and California native, so much of who I am and where I come from is from our beautiful state, a state that’s given me my brightest and darkest days. It is with my love of California in mind that I am telling my story, and urging my fellow Californians to consider what’s on the ballot in September’s recall election: the safety of our communities. Voting NO in the recall election on Sept. 14 is about more than politics, it’s about protecting California’s strong gun safety laws and keeping a governor in place who has fought to end our gun violence epidemic.
I am the daughter of working class parents from Los Angeles, California, and a proud first-generation Mexican-American college graduate from UCLA. My amazing and selfless parents, Raul and Carmen sacrificed everything to give their four children a better life with dreams of a college education that they were both denied growing up in the racially discriminating Juan Crow era in El Paso, Texas.
But my parents’ dream of having their oldest daughter be the first in the family to attend college was almost shattered. A few days after I graduated from high school I was awakened in the middle of the night by a man who broke into my house and into my bedroom, attempting to rape me with a gun to my head.
With my father away at work, thankfully, my mother, my hero, heard and sensed that something wasn’t right, and woke up to check on me, startling the gunman. My mother’s instinct and tremendous courage saved my life that night when she went after the gun in his hand. Shots went off, I broke away from his hold, ran to the bathroom and locked the door, while my mother played dead in the hallway. It’s a miracle that my family and I survived that night, but that horrible memory imprinted into every part of my bones…the terrifying loud sounds of the gunshots, the stench of smoke and alcohol on his breath, the screams for help that have shown up in my nightmares for decades.
Each year, 3,800 Latinx people die from gun violence in the US.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. WONDER Online Database, Underlying Causes of Death. A yearly average was developed using five years of the most recent available data: 2015 to 2019.
Unfortunately, so many people have stories of gun violence like my own. Each year, 3,800 Latinos die from gun violence in the US and many more are wounded. Latinos are twice as likely to be killed in a gun homicide as white people and are also more likely to be fatally shot by police. The burden of gun violence is also borne by Latino children and teens, who are three times more likely to be killed in a gun homicide than their white peers and are also more likely to be exposed to violence in cities.
But we have seen progress. Now, survivors have a Governor who not only supports and listens to them, but also consistently takes action to end gun violence. Without the tireless work of Governor Newsom and his team, California would not have one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country. But, the work isn’t done yet. We need Governor Newsom in office to prevent gun violence in our state—that’s why I’m voting NO on the recall election.
Governor Newsom continues to be a champion for gun safety and more than ever we need his leadership. In the last three years alone, Governor Newsom has allocated a historic $239 million in funding for CalVIP, a state grant program that supports effective, community-based violence intervention programs across the state and signed seven gun safety bills. He has also expanded his budget for victims of crime and sexual assault including victims of domestic violence.
We will not find a stronger gun safety advocate than Governor Newsom. Every time our Governor shows up for gun safety, he lets survivors know that he sees us. Every time he signs a gun safety bill, our state becomes one step closer to ending gun violence—so no family has to go through what my family went through.
Voting NO in the recall election is about protecting California’s communities from gun violence, keeping our strong gun safety laws in place, and voting to support a governor who has taken meaningful action to end our gun violence epidemic. We cannot sit back and risk reversing the progress that has been made to keep our communities safe and provide survivors of violence with the hope and resources needed to heal. There is too much at stake right now and losing a gun sense champion like Governor Newsom would be an enormous step back.
Paid for by Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.
Cindy Montoya is a gun violence survivor and volunteer leader with Moms Demand Action in Los Angeles