Father of slain Isla Vista student working to affect November midterm elections

Jul 15, 2014

Richard Martinez, the father of San Luis Obispo High School graduate and Isla Vista shooting victim Christopher Martinez is hoping to influence the upcoming November mid-term elections. His goal is to shift the make-up of congress toward sensible gun reform. 

"We're trying to get the message out to these various legislators that people want action," Martinez said. Earlier this month, Martinez and Moms Demand Action, went to the state capitols of Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Iowa earlier this month, pulling wagons full of "Not One More" postcards to deliver to various lawmakers.

He has partnered with Everytown.org and Moms Demand Action. These organizations are working towards changing gun violence in America. In their grassroots efforts, they have collected more than 2.4 million "Not One More" postcards. The cards, which are all addressed to particular legislators, were collected electronically through Everytown's website.

"We wanted to deliver this postcards personally in a way that, we hope, politicians will find hard to ignore," Martinez said.

Last week, they distributed a questionnaire to all federal candidates, hoping to build a database of their views on gun laws. Martinez and his partners will monitor who completes the questionnaire and who doesn't. He says based on the results, they will do everything they can to turn out the vote this November.

"For us, it's not a partisan issue. We don't care if you're a Democrat. We don't care if you're a Republican. We don't care where you are on any of these other issues. Children's safety is at stake," said Martinez. 

Martinez says to some degree, everyone is responsible for gun violence in America. He often brings the attention back to Sandy Hook, saying he can't believe people weren't exceptionally motivated to act after that day. He also wants to see some other changes outside of Washington.

He said, "[We need] for the media to develop some sort of code of ethics to deal with these situations to be more responsible in their reporting.The NRA needs to start thinking back to where there roots were in their values in the past."

But within the realm of legislation, Martinez says mainstream concerns could be addressed if things were different. He references a recently released, bi-partisan report on polarization in Congress and what can be done to make it more functional. It speaks specifically on how to reduce the election of extreme candidates.

"No country can continue to maintain leadership in the world with the kind of congress we have now," said Martinez.

He believes it's not just apathy keeping young people from the polls.

"Well they don't even want to be involved in politics because they see this example of congress and they say, well we don't want to be like that, it doesn't work. Well, that's giving up on the American ideal of democratic democracy," Martinez said. "It's only going to get fixed if people begin to appreciate again that they have the power, that they can hold their elected officials accountable, that they elect better leadership. I mean, this country deserves better leadership than what it's got now."

It seems Martinez hasn't stopped his pursuit to make change since the Isla Vista massacre. More than two million people have pledged their support to the Everytown campaign in the form of donations, pledge cards and contacting their state Governors.

"I've been moving so fast lately, that I haven't been too much in touch with my support. Frankly I've been moving so fast. But, every place that I've been the reception has been great. And, you know, it's heartwarming to see the response that I'm getting from the people that live in these various areas. I mean, they have kids," he said. 

He says the lives of all kids in schools, colleges and people on the street are at stake unless Americans act to address the problem.

"I'm very motivated to get this fixed and to try to help in any way I can and work with anybody that wants to work with me to help solve this problem," Martinez said.