July 17 is the best of days in the Gaytan household, because it marks the birthday of 12-year-old Ian, who lives with his grandparents in a doublewide mobile home on a dirt road in Española. And July 17 is the worst of days, because it marks the anniversary of the shooting death of his 20-year-old mother, Jasmine Gaytan, at the hands of his father, Leroy Fresquez, Jr.
It has been left to Olga Gaytan, a 55-year-old immigrant from Guanajuato, Mexico, to make sense of the contradictions. “People say I’m his grandma, but I always say ‘No, I’m his mother,’” said Gaytan, who stepped in and adopted her grandson following the 2009 murder of her daughter. Jasmine and Leroy had known each other ever since their days at Carlos F. Vigil Middle School, the same school Ian now attends. It is the school where the two of them met, and the school from which they both dropped out in seventh grade.
When retired U.S. Navy Captain and astronaut Mark Kelly asked nine high school students how many knew someone who had been shot, all of them raised their hands. The students were from Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and two schools on tribal land. He said that’s the first time every student raised a hand; it’s usually closer to 50 percent when he asks that in other states—and closer to zero percent in other developed nations. Three of the students later said they had been shot at themselves . Kelly appeared with his wife, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Albuquerque on Tuesday.
The Legislative Finance Committee started the process to create a task force focused on preventing school shootings. State Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, made the motion after a morning full of testimony from state, school and law enforcement officials about ways to prevent school shootings. The Legislative Council will decide on the makeup of the task force during its April meeting. The vote came after Munoz said the Legislature should start the process for an extraordinary session for school security, saying that there was no time to wait to address the issue. At the hearing Thursday, many people recalled the December shooting at Aztec High School that left two students and the shooter dead.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham continues to put the issue of reducing of gun violence on the front burner. The Democratic congresswoman from Albuquerque announced on Friday that she joined a task force on gun violence prevention. She also wants the House to create a Select Committee on Gun Violence. “I look forward to working through this task force to push for common-sense legislation that finally addresses the gun violence epidemic,” Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “Since the leadership in Congress has failed to do anything, I am joining my colleagues to call for a Select Committee that leads to decisive action.”
The House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force is chaired by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and was created following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
The U.S. Senate is taking another crack at legislation to curb gun violence, a week after a shooting at an Oregon community college that left nine dead. Both U.S. Senators from New Mexico expressed support for the principles behind the legislation. The Senate introduced the legislation on Thursday with a letter from sponsors Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Debbie Stabinow, D-Mich. The letter was sent to their Senate colleagues, including both Democratic Senators from New Mexico. From NBC News: The changes would “bolster the background check system by strengthening it and stopping those who try to evade it,” the letter said.
In a fundraising email to supporters, an “angry” and “frustrated” Michelle Lujan Grisham called for “common sense” action to curb gun violence. In the email, from her Friends of Michelle campaign committee, she notes a Washington Post article that showed there have been more mass shootings so far this year than days in the year. The Washington Post has been tracking shootings with multiple people injured or killed, such as the Los Altos Skate Park shooting that left one dead, one paralyzed and several others injured. Other counts only list those with multiple people killed. Lujan Grisham said that the “gun culture” in the United States helps lead to the shootings.