California Avocado Festival, scheduled for the first weekend in October, is a cherished Carpinteria tradition. Locals and tens of thousands of visitors gather to celebrate Carpinteria and its favorite fruit. It’s our time to shine.

I’m not alone thinking that something is different now. Walmarts, churches, bars and, yes, festivals have become targets of domestic terrorism. The young white men who typically commit these vile acts use guns to slaughter defenseless people. Last year, 40,000 Americans died from gun violence.

This reality is tremendously difficult to comprehend, to cope with. We must act to make our public spaces and favorite places more secure and peaceful.

Coalition Against Gun Violence, a local nonprofit founded by Carpinteria’s Toni Wellen, has operated for the past 25 years to enact change. CAGV has pressured lawmakers to pass laws— banning the Saturday Night Special and implementing the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act in California. Every year, the organization hosts a gun buyback to remove firearms from homes and the streets. CAGV will host a luncheon in Santa Barbara on Sept. 29, and it’s a great way to get involved and support an organization that is more important than ever.

This isn’t to say, be scared, or stay home from Avofest. It’s to say, do something. Let’s enjoy this year’s Avofest, but let’s not pretend that the issue of gun violence in America is not a horrible epidemic. We can do something about it. Gun violence impacts all of us. We can say in solidarity with unequivocal conviction that gun laws need to be changed, not just as a means to reduce the quantity of guns in households and on the streets, but as a tool to change attitudes toward weapons, violence and all the ugliness they unnecessarily contribute to our society.

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