On Saturday, June 4, activists who were outraged by recent mass murders perpetrated with firearms gathered for a “Vote for Our Lives” rally in the section of Eisenhower Park that includes the Salon Meritage memorial. The gathering was mostly of Democratic candidates and advocates of common sense gun control. No counter protesters were observed. The activists and candidates called on the public to vote in Tuesday’s election (which is now over).
The event was apparently presented by several groups, such as HB Huddle, WAVE, and Moms Demand Action.
Speakers included a woman who watched her son die of a gunshot wound, a 19-year-old woman who remembered being terrified during an active shooter “event” that turned out to have been a police drill, and Bethany Webb, sister of Salon Meritage murder victim Laura Webb-Elody. Webb was one of the hosts of the event. Webb said she wanted to make sure that Salon Meritage remains the largest mass murder in Orange County history because the alternative is unacceptable.
Other speakers included a number of Democratic candidates for public office.
Democratic candidate Katie Porter, running for reelection in the 47th Congressional District, said, “We should tell Washington what to do.”
Seal Beach District One City Councilman/Mayor Joe Kalmick said Salon Meritage touched him deeply. Before the event, he had never known someone who had been murdered.
State Sen. Tom Umberg, a retired U.S. Army colonel, asked members of the audience how many of them had seen an AR-15. He also asked how many had seen an M-16 rifle. He said he had seen and fired an M-16. “I’ve seen what an M1-16 or it’s civilian equivalent the AR-15 can do and has done up close,” he said.
Umberg said that an 18-year-old with mental illness could buy an AR-15 as easily as he could buy a Baby Ruth was soul-crushing.
Speaking to individuals who had lost loved ones to gun violence, he said: “Bethany pointed out that when you cross the border into California, you have to declare a watermelon but you don’t have to declare an AR-15.”
Jay Chen, a Naval reserve officer and candidate for the 45th Congressional District, said he was proud of his “F” from the NRA.
Prior to the event, a bouquet of flowers was placed on the Support in Love plaque of the Salon Meritage memorial.