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The Thousand Oaks Shooting in California

On November 7, a fun college night turned deadly in a local bar in Thousand Oaks, California. The shooting took place in a packed bar full of young people, mostly college students from the nearby Pepperdine University, who came for a “country college night.” 12 people were killed, along with 22 injured. Five off-duty police officers were also present during the deadly attack and risked their lives trying to help others escape.

One of these heroes includes Sergeant Ron Helus, a 29-year veteran of the Thousand Oaks police department who was one of the first to arrive on the scene of the shooting. Helus entered the bar and exchanged fire with the shooter, but was fatally shot multiple times before backup could arrive. He was looking to retire next year, and had a son and wife. His last words to his wife, “I gotta go, I love you, call you later” need to remind us that the lack of gun laws not only kill people, but ruin the lives the the families of these victims. Ventura County Sheriff, Geoff Dean describes Helus as “hard-working [and] totally committed” and that “tonight … he died a hero. … He gave his life to save other people."

California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, however this tragedy still managed to occur. The gunman, 28 year old Ian D. Long, legally purchased a glock 0.45 caliber handgun with an extended magazine. Long had served in Afghanistan, and was believed to be suffering from PTSD, however mental health professions deemed these concerns negligible when he purchased a gun. Additionally, Thousand Oaks was considered to be the third safest city in the nation due to such firearm regulations that still are not enough.

At least 47 survivors of the shooting in Thousand Oaks, California were also present during the Las Vegas shooting last year. Prior to the tragic events of November 7th, Borderline Bar and Grill served as a place of refuge and healing for victims of the Las Vegas shooting. The survivors connect through Facebook and host frequent “meet and greets,” that are often take place at Borderline. The community “is just broken. I’m hearing a lot of: Why is this our new norm? Why is this our new norm? It shouldn’t be. At all,” said Janie Scott, who safely made it out of both shootings. Others were not as fortunate. Telemachus Orfanos survived the Route 91 Music Festival in Vegas, but was fatally shot at Borderline. His mother believes the solution is clear: “gun control. Right now—so that no one else goes through this...gun control.”

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