Del Mar Shooting: It was Bound to Happen Sooner or Later

Del Mar race track in the quaint city of Del Mar, CA., sitting just a short distance from the beach, is supposed to be this serene, laid back place we all go to watch and enjoy thoroughbred racing.  That all changed this weekend when an officer involved shooting rocked the the track right after the last race Sunday.

Information about the incident is sketchy, but what we do know is that someone was shot directly in front of the ticket booth at Del Mar after a confrontation with San Diego Country sheriff deputies.  The shooting took place after the patron, who was trying to get a ticket to the Ice Cube concert scheduled after the races, became agitated when he was told the concert was sold out.  The patron reacted by pulling out a gun and firing it into the crowd.  Sheriff deputies acted swiftly, ending the confrontation within seconds. But, the damage was done.  Our cool little slice of heaven, one of the great places in American racing, will now just be another statistic, another venue where random shootings take place.  The innocence of Del Mar is lost forever.

The reality is it was bound to happen sooner than later during this time when gun violence is at an all-time high. Race tracks, like college football stadiums, have large amounts of people present on weekends. There were 33,000 people at Del Mar Sunday, and I guarantee you — because there was an Ice Cube concert there — more than one person was strapped.  In case anyone needs to be reminded, Cube is one of the founders of Gansta Rap, an original founding member of the infamous rap group NWA.  They made millions by calling out police, advocating violence and confrontation.  It was their M.O.  Where Ice Cube goes, handguns are going to be found on or around a lot of people who love his music.  The guy who made “F— the Police” famous in one of his lyrics can’t be surprised this happened at one of his concerts.

The ironic thing is that I am not surprised either.  America has become sterile to gun violence, like it is an afterthought to the everyday lives we live.  While we could make this about rap music, or race, or politics, the truth is this could have happened anywhere we spend our daily lives — at the grocery store, or our kids school, or the mall.  But, in this case, it just happened at the one place in America where you would think you were immune to all of this gun stuff.  It happened at the one place in America, Where the Turf Meets the Surf, where you would never believe such a thing is possible.

Something has to change in this country.  If you are carrying a gun, you sure the hell better have a good reason.  To fire a weapon outside the gates of a place like Del Mar should not be acceptable to anyone in this country, and that includes the NRA, who is predominantly white, and it includes the ganstas, who are predominantly black.  Who knows what the answer is — tougher gun laws, super tough penalties and sentences, etc. — but maybe it all just starts with a little common sense.  Regardless, this kind of thing is happening all too often in America.

Today is closing day at Del Mar and I suspect it will be very difficult for people to treat it as business as usual.  Instead of cute little turnstiles and lovely people greeting us at the front gate, there will be metal detectors and a huge police presence.  Instead of the laid back nature of Del Mar, entry to the track will be treated like the Kentucky Derby, where bags and purses are left at home in place of clear, plastic purses that police can see inside.  The end result of this shooting is simple — Where the Turf Meets the Surf has lost it’s innocence and we have nobody to blame but ourselves.






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