January 29, 2023
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Editorial: Capps puts spotlight on Isla Vista murders


More than six months after the Isla Vista tragedy struck our communities, halting steps are being taken to head off another attack like Elliot Rodger’s rampage.

Richard Martinez, a Santa Maria attorney whose son Christopher was killed in Isla Vista, has been on a national tour to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people.

And area legislators won a victory this summer when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that authorizes law enforcement officers or family members to seek a restraining order that prevents people deemed threats to society from possessing weapons for 21 days.

Martinez, who has focused most of his efforts at the state level, joined U.S. Rep. Lois Capps at the State of the Union address on Jan. 20. When we spoke with her after the speech, Capps said she’d reached out to Martinez because his son was the only constituent of her district killed that evening.

She applauded Martinez for his persistence in turning “Not one more” into a broader national effort. “I’m inspired by the way he turned his grief and anger into something positive,” she said.

We support the people’s right to bear arms, but we’ve been persuaded that Martinez is also right when he says that innocent people should not be gunned down by a deranged shooter with easy access to deadly weapons.

Not all of the questions about Isla Vista have been answered. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, reappointed by the governor to the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, has not yet filed an official report to the district attorney on the steps police took to thwart the killer on or before the May 23 shootings. There’s been scant detail provided about the sequence in which Rodger murdered his roommates — knives are the suspected weapons.

In just a few months, we’ll reach the one-year anniversary of the Isla Vista murders. More movement on local governance issues, more answers and a better approach managing mental health and gun ownership would be welcome developments.