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The tragedy in Isla Vista

Posted: June 2, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 2, 2014 2:00 a.m.

By now, most of us have heard of the terrible tragedy that happened in Santa Barbara before Memorial Day. A very confused young man committed a series of violent acts that resulted in the deaths of six college students.

There has already been a great deal of ink and talk about this. But, being the parent of a former UCSB student, I feel that a few observations are in order.

I heard the tremendous anguish of the father who spoke at the memorial service regarding the needless death of his son.

Nothing can assuage this pain and suffering that he and the other families are going through.

However, at one point, the father had the group chant “not one more” in reference to stronger gun controls that would have theoretically prevented this tragedy.

I must respectfully disagree. This is not a gun control issue but a mental health issue.

Why? Three of the six victims were killed by stabbing. Are we willing to outlaw knives as well as guns? What if a baseball bat was used? Will we outlaw bats?

The killer also used semi-automatic handguns that were purchased legally. This should tell us something very important. 

There were no assault rifles, sawed-off shotguns, or any other “exotic” weapons. These were common self-defense weapons in the hands of a mentally disturbed individual.

The hole in our system, clearly, is the answer to this question: Why was a person with a known history of mental illness still able to pass all of the background checks and scrutiny from the state of California?

It would seem like a very prudent and easy step for a doctor, parent, peace officer orjudge to simply place a “block” on an individual for a weapons purchase. 

The hold could be removed if a person provides credible evidence that the individual does not pose a risk to the community.

I am a gun advocate, but this hole needs to be plugged. We don’t need more restrictive guns laws. We need to refine what we already have.

Further, I have heard very little discussion about the party, drinking, and drug culture of Isla Vista.

Over the last few months there have been at least three rapes, a riot, and the death of a drunken coed falling off a cliff. And now a mass murder.

Young people seeking an atmosphere with little parental supervision, scant university oversight, and weak law enforcement are drawn to IV like flies.

I was recently in a frat house in Isla Vista. This was a few months after “parent weekend,” before which the place had been sanitized for visiting moms and dads.

I went up an unlit stairwell to the second floor. There was trash coating nearly every inch of the central hallway.Garbage was overflowing in every bin.

And, best of all, the overpowering scent of human urine was everywhere.

I was amazed that the university allows its student to live in such conditions and grants Greek organizations the permission to operate on campus with such squalid living areas.

One little dark secret is that the female sorority houses have a “house mom” who guards the integrity of the residents. Male fraternity houses have no such adult supervision.

Seems like a sexist double standard that the leftist UC system should be held accountable for.

In one visit to UCSB, this author was standing on the cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Five male and female students were seen stripping naked and going swimming.

This was about 2 p.m. Do you think drugs or alcohol had anything to do with that scene? You tell me.

What happens when it gets dark? One can only imagine.

To make things worse, law enforcement is poor at best. Underage students routinely drink at area bars and are not carded. Complaints to these “law enforcement” departments are routinely ignored.

The irony of all of this is that UCSB is an excellent university. The academic “half” of the school boasts several Nobel Laureates and a fine reputation.

The party “half” is a dark embarrassment that fosters rape, alcoholism/drug use, and death.

In the latest Princeton Review rankings of the top party schools in the nation, UCSB is ranked No. 2. This is not a badge of honor or distinction. It’s an embarrassment.

It is difficult to say what actions need to be taken to prevent another tragedy. But it seems like two prudent steps would be a mental health block on gun purchases and the cleanup of party destinations like Isla Vista that merely attract trouble.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita. He can be reached at


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