First Fridays in downtown Oakland is a monthly event that fills the streets with food, music and dance. Full of life. One recent Friday, two groups of teenagers reportedly began an argument at the event.
Shortly, someone pulled out a gun and shot dead an 18-year-old boy. His name was Kiante Campbell. Three other people were also shot and wounded, including two women in their 20s who were simply out to enjoy the art and music. Hit by stray bullets, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But the truth is with so many guns in our city and our country, any place could be the wrong place; any time could be the wrong time.
As a resident at Highland Hospital, I see that 18-year-old nearly every day. Sometimes he dies immediately, sometimes he just barely survives.
Our hospital has many patients who have been convalescing for months to even years from gunshot wounds -- with their abdomens or limbs open, awaiting second, third or 10th operations to try to repair what a gunshot did in seconds. These men and women have been changed from young healthy people to hospital patients -- some who will never leave, others disabled for the rest of their lives.
A single father walked his 4-year-old daughter to school, only blocks from our hospital. Moments after dropping her off, a car pulled up and shot at several people, including him.
In a country as developed and resourced as ours, we cannot allow walking your daughter to school to be so dangerously wrong.
One night when I was working in the emergency department, a fight near the hospital arose. Within 30 minutes, six shooting victims arrived. During my 10-hour shift, we cared for 11 people with gunshot wounds. Friday night. Wrong time?
Recently a man in our emergency department who was very ill pulled out a gun from his bag after being taken to a bed to be cared for. Should we have to search everyone for weapons before we provide immediate and emergent medical care? The sad truth is, this is our reality. In a nation that is an international leader for human rights, even our hospitals are not safe.
By Jan. 23, 23 people had been injured or died from gun violence in Oakland in 2013. That is one every single day. Every single day.
Is every single day the wrong time?
Gun violence is real, it is pervasive, and its consequences are grave. We need gun control now. Not in 10 years when 3,650 more people in Oakland have had their lives forever changed by gun violence. This is the right time.
The U.S. has more firearms per person than any other country in the world. This is the right place.
On April 16, the California Senate discussed legislation that will limit access to guns for people with criminal records, unstable mental illness, and alcohol abuse; limit guns in the houses of children, and acquisition of unlimited ammunition.
It is up to us to make this change happen. I encourage the people of Oakland to stand up and tell our state and national leaders the time is now. And I urge our state leaders to listen to us and vote "yes."
Lia Losonczy is an Oakland resident.