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Court: California's under-21 gun sales ban unconstitutional

 May 12, 2022 at 1:36 PM PDT

S1: A reversal on a law restricting the purchase of semiautomatic rifles.
S2: Gun rights advocates have really been filing a lot of these lawsuits trying to reshape California gun laws.
S1: I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS Midday Edition. A look at how parents are dealing with the shortage of baby formula.
S3: It's just a really scary and emotional time for parents. You know , at this basic thing , you need to feed your baby. And that's in question now.
S1: And what's the future of the housing market as home prices rise ? Plus , the legacy of the San Diego Italian Film Festival's founder. That's ahead on Midday Edition. A federal appeals court has struck down a state law prohibiting the sale of semi-automatic rifles to people under the age of 21. The law was initially passed shortly after the 2019 Poway synagogue shooting and was designed to close a loophole that allowed the 19 year old perpetrator to obtain the gun he used in that attack. San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Christina Davis has been covering this story. Christina , welcome back to the show.
S2: Thanks for having me again.
S2: It was a group of young adults , people who are right in this age , group of 18 to 20 , and also some gun advocacy groups and some firearms dealers. And they were basically challenging a pair of laws that restricted gun sales for young adults under 21.
S2: But basically a majority panel said that one of the laws they felt probably was constitutional. And that law has to do with a ban on people under the age of 21 buying long guns. And we're talking about rifles and shotguns and things like that , unless they had a valid hunting license. So they said that that seems reasonable under the Second Amendment. What they overturned and kind of the news of the day is they found the other law unconstitutional. And that law was really singling out semiautomatic rifles , which is the kind of rifle that was used in the Poway attack. And that law said that for anyone under 21 , they are not allowed to buy semiautomatic rifles even if they have a hunting license. There's very few exceptions. It was a complete ban and they said that that was unconstitutional because it placed a severe burden on their Second Amendment rights.
S2: Almost the only exceptions carved out to that law are for sworn peace officers or military members. And the court kind of , in their ruling incredulously , kind of said , you know , so you're saying that anyone under 21 , 18 to 20 , basically who wants to buy one of these rifles has to either become a police officer or join the military. It doesn't seem very reasonable , you know , for a thing that many young adults could do. And they also pointed out that a lot of police departments around the country don't even accept people who are under 21 anyways. Another point that they made was for self-defense. They said it places severe burden on their right to self-defense in defense of the home , which has been really a big part of Second Amendment law. And they're saying , look , people who are 20 , under 21 are already not allowed to buy a handgun. That's a separate law that wasn't really at issue here. But they're saying they can't buy a handgun really under any circumstances. Now , you're saying that they can't buy semiautomatic rifles. Those are the two best weapons that can be used for defending the home. They argued and they said that left them with very few other options to defend the home if they wished , and then that was a severe burden on their rights. Okay.
S1: Okay. So let's go back to the law itself and why it was originally passed.
S2: So we've seen a lot of these other laws in recent years. I'm just talking about like the last decade or under the last decade being passed that are in response to shootings , school shootings and mass shootings. And so I kind of see this is just the latest. And this was passed and several months after the April 2019 synagogue shooting , and it basically addresses or tries to address the way that the gunman got the weapon for the attack. He went to a gun shop in Greenville , here in San Diego , and basically said that he had a hunting license that had been issued to him , which meant that he , under that exception , was able to buy an AR 15 style rifle. And so this law basically was in reaction to that , saying , well , we're going to get rid of that hunting license exemption for these kinds of weapons. Now , the weird thing about how the gunman got the weapon and everything is that it the transaction itself was actually kind of hinky , maybe not legal anyways , because while the gunman had actually had a hunting license issued to him , it wasn't yet valid. It was supposed to actually go into effect and be valid a few months later , at the beginning of July , which is the beginning of the official hunting season. So there's some controversy there whether he should have even been sold the gun in the first place. But it's clearly what the gun shop relied on to give him that weapon.
S1: You know , the ninth Circuit. Court has historically been quite liberal. Yet that's changed in recent years , especially with rulings on firearms.
S2: And it really has reshaped a large portion of the court. If you look at just active duty judges on the Ninth Circuit , which is , by the way , the biggest appeals circuit federally , there are still a few more liberals than conservatives. And so gun rights advocates have really been filing a lot of these lawsuits , trying to reshape California gun laws , hoping for some favorable outcomes due to kind of the change on the the federal bench and also the Supreme Court.
S2: They basically said there they were continuing to review the decision and that something like they were still committed to upholding California's gun laws for public safety. One thing that they could do , and I have seen them do with many other of these rulings , is that they can ask a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit to relook at the case and rehear it. So , you know , the first step to the Ninth Circuit is you get heard before a panel of three judges and then , you know , if if deemed necessary and if the Ninth Circuit and Ninth Circuit judges , they kind of vote on it. And if they agree to hear it , they think it's an important enough issue , then they can vote to rehear. It's its 11 judges.
S1: I've been speaking with San Diego Union Tribune reporter Christina Davis. Christina , thank you so much for joining us.
S2: Thank you.
S4: Only about 25% of American mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months of life. That's according to the CDC. So baby formula is essential. But now it's also very hard to find so hard that parents are scouring stores , petitioning manufacturers and issuing heartfelt pleas for formula over the Internet. Couple that scarcity with rising prices and some families are getting a little desperate. Joining me is KPBS race and equity reporter Christina Kim. Christina , welcome.
S3: Hey , Maureen.
S4: What has happened to the nation's supply of baby formula ? Right.
S3: Like so many items during the pandemic , the lack of supply is due to supply chain issues , historic inflation , but it's also due to some product recalls. Earlier this year in February , Abbott Nutrition , which is a big player in the domestic formula market , had to recall some of its formula after two babies died of bacterial infections after ingesting it. So all these factors have really shrunk the supply , with some retail trackers showing that there's a whopping 43% less formula on store shelves than usual.
S4: Now , you spoke with a mother of a three month old in Santee.
S3: Let's take a listen.
S2: We've had to try different formulas to see what she can handle. So we finally found nutrition again. Hypoallergenic is the only one that she can use. She has some medical issues.
S3: So as you can imagine , you know , Megan was so relieved to finally find a formula that worked for her baby. But now , of course , the big problem is she can't find that formula in stores. And when she does , it's more expensive than before. As you can imagine , Megan's really scared and nervous about how she's going to be able to feed Stephanie in the coming months if this shortage continues. It's just a really what I heard from her. It's just a really scary and emotional time for parents. You know , at this basic thing , you need to feed your baby. And that's in question now.
S4: And she got help , though , from a Facebook post , right ? Yeah.
S3: Megan told me she's not really one to post on Facebook , but in a moment of desperation , she put a call out on Facebook asking for people to buy the formula she needs if they saw it in stores and she would reimburse them. She's been pretty overwhelmed with the results. She's had people shipping her formula from other states , and her brother in law even drove one day from Arizona just to get her what she needed. Let's take a listen.
S2: Because of that post , I have stocked up about a month , maybe , maybe five weeks worth. But after that , I'm not sure what I'm going to do.
S3: And she's also paying it forward. You know , as she said at the top , she was really experimenting with a lot of different formulas to see what baby Stephanie could keep down. A lot of them didn't work. So she's actually gone on and offered mothers this opened formula for free , something that she said , you know , normally moms wouldn't accept that , especially given this time to accept open formula. But she had a mother from El Cajon come and was just in tears , so thankful to actually get her hands on any formula. So at this point , what I'm hearing from Megan , it's just parents really looking out for each other.
S4: And you say when parents can actually find baby formula , the price has increased. Yeah.
S3: Yeah. So as always , when supply shrinks , prices go up. So Megan says that when she does find the formula she needs , the price has shot up $5 from $33 to $38 per 12 ounce can.
S4: Between the shortage and the high prices. Struggling families must be turning to food banks for formula. But do the food banks have any supplies ? Right.
S3: So I actually spoke to Casey Castillo. He's the CEO of the San Diego Food Bank , which is one of only three food banks in the state that offer diapers , formula and baby wipes. And as of this Tuesday , they have absolutely no baby formula left in their stock. Let's take a listen.
S2: We have never experienced this and we've never seen where we've been completely out of baby formula at both locations.
S3: Casey told me that getting formula is actually really challenging. They are always kind of running low , but this is historic to have nothing at all. And as I mentioned , again , they're one of only three food banks in the state of California that offer formula for families in need. And Casey said that they've seen the demand grow for this product year after year since they started giving it in 2019.
S3: They're saying not enough is being done. The FDA says it's working to increase domestic production and in. Or more formula. But as of now , we have yet to see what that's actually going to look like.
S4: In the meantime , though , the FDA is warning about the temptation some parents may have to make their own formula.
S3: That's right. The FDA is saying , please do not try and make homemade formula. The reality is , is that it may lack the essential nutrients that babies and infants really need. And , you know , on top of that , they need to avoid risky behaviors. There's no need to dilute infant formula and there's no need to introduce cow's milk earlier than recommended.
S4: I've been speaking with KPBS race and equity reporter Christina Kim. Christina , thank you very much.
S3: Thank you , Maureen.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH. The post of Homes in San Diego is the highest it's ever been , and one national home tracker has named San Diego the least affordable housing market in the country. How did things get so tough and how are people trying to cope ? KPBS reporter Thomas Fudge has the story.
S5: In North Park , Jake Heroes has an apartment that cost 20 $100 a month. It's one bedroom , one bath and 650 square feet that he shares with his girlfriend. He was just forced out of another apartment in normal heights , and his new place is smaller and more expensive.
S6: About $100 more. We lost our parking space. We lost a bedroom and a bathroom. 100 square feet. But it was like the only place that kind of fit the criteria we.
S5: Needed to make ends meet. He's had to increase the debt on his credit card and cancel his health insurance. Jake's story is typical of a San Diego market where rents have increased 19% over the past year , according to apartment LIPSCOMBE. Jan Neff Sinclair rents an apartment for 20 $800 a month in Carlsbad. Like heroes , she was recently forced out of another apartment when the building was sold. She can pay for her new place on her disability income thanks to her roommate , Section eight voucher. But it's hard to know how long that will last.
S2: It's affordable now. If they raised the run again in October , it probably won't be unless Social Security goes up a lot or the housing voucher goes up a lot.
S5: As rents surge upwards , mortgages are doing the same. The San Diego Association of Realtors reports the median price for a detached home in San Diego was $1 million in April. Who can afford $1,000,000 home ? San Diego realtor Stephanie Lloyd says a lot of her dual income clients simply don't have the money that's required.
S7: If you're buying $1,000,000 home , typically what I'm seeing is income , either singular or combined , probably around 200,000. And then with a 20% down payment to go along with that.
S5: A survey by the Texas home buying website Ojo has called San Diego the least affordable metro area in the U.S.. Political pressures and a dwindling supply of buildable land have long prevented San Diego from keeping up with the demand for new housing. That's according to Alan Jin , an economics professor at the University of San Diego. Ginn says today's rising home prices are fueling speculation as investors may cash offers for homes in hopes of selling them for a profit. And something else has happened following the COVID pandemic. Ginn calls it the pandemic piggy bank. During the pandemic.
S2: A lot of people were able to keep working if they were still drowning in a lot of income , but they didn't have anywhere to spend it. So people built up a reserve of cash. Once the pandemic ended or once things started opening up again , people took that money and have gone out and spent it in the economy. And one place that they put that money is into the housing market.
S5: What's happening in our region is part of a bigger trend. Chris Elvedi , an economist with Apartment Lipscomb , says rents rose 16% nationwide in the past 12 months. That's just three percentage points less than in San Diego. In our region , high housing demand isn't going away. Salvatore says San Diego is a sticky market. Despite high home prices , people still don't want to leave and lots of people are still trying to move here.
S6: The folks that are searching for apartments in San Diego , about 40% of them are searching from outside the metro. And so the flow of folks coming from outside of the metro really kind of outweighing the flow of folks looking to leave the metro.
S5: Is there a way to mitigate San Diego's housing shortage ? Marco Layman says there is. He is the president of New City America , which creates urban development districts. I caught up with La Mandarin on Adams Avenue in Kensington. He says San Diego has plenty of buildable land. You just have to knock down the obsolete buildings that are sitting on it.
S8: I think that what we did is we overbuilt in the United States in the 20th century.
S5: And today the result is lots of retail and office buildings that have lost their value and could make way for housing.
S8: We're here on Adams Avenue and you're looking up and down. You see a lot of one storey non historic buildings. And the example I give you is the old de Mills restaurant that was there for years. 15,000 square foot lot. If I'm not mistaken , they just sold that. And they're going to be , I think , well over 100 apartments built there.
S5: Landry says. If the housing market is going to meet the demand , those kinds of projects need to move ahead and developers will have to build up. That means dense multistory housing is going to. Be in San Diego's future and we had better get used to it. For now , San Diegans are doing their best to afford whatever they can. Jake Heroes works in construction. He says he's worked on remodels of people's homes and he wonders where they find the money to do it.
S6: You know , people who have , you know , plenty of money to be able to do these remodels and everything and stuff. And it's just like , you know , I feel like I'm just a hardworking guy. I feel like I have an uncanny work ethic. Here I am , you know , pushing 50 hours a week and it's like I can barely scrape by.
S5: Rising interest rates may lead to a cooling housing market , but for now , just scraping by will remain a reality for a lot of people. Thomas Fudge , KPBS News.
S4: Two more journalists have been killed in Mexico this week , bringing the grim total of reporter deaths to 11 this year. The latest murders were of two women from an online news site in the state of Veracruz. News of their deaths came the same day as a rally held in Mexico City to commemorate the death of a reporter in Sinaloa. Just last week , drug cartels and their hitmen are often blamed for the murders of Mexican journalists. Mexican prosecutors have named associates of the old Arellano Félix drug cartel in the murders of two Tijuana journalists earlier this year. But many people don't believe the government's case against the cartel and accuse authorities of a cover up. Joining me is San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Wendy Fry , who has been covering these killings in Mexico. And Wendy , welcome to the program.
S2: Hey , Maureen , thanks for having me.
S4: Can you tell us about the most recent incidents of journalist killings in Mexico that happened this week ? Right.
S2: So on Monday , I believe in Veracruz , two other reporters were gunned down by unnamed assassins. A just as you know , as you mentioned , Mexican journalists were already preparing to have a protest from a killing late last week. And then two more were killed just as reporters were getting ready to go to these rallies across Mexico to honor the colleagues who fell the week before. So it just shows how relentless these killings have been. And , you know , Veracruz prosecutors have promised that their investigation will be exhaustive , but they're already saying that they don't think that it had anything to do with their work as journalists. And already , you know , they're there. Their statements are being called into question on those murders in Veracruz as well.
S2: All over Mexico , too , in Tijuana in January , just within days apart of each other , Margarito Martinez , who was a close colleague of ours , and Lawrence Maldonado , who is a long time prominent broadcast journalist. And then since 2020 , there's been multiple killings all over all over Mexico.
S4: Mexican authorities have named the alleged killers of the two journalist murdered in Tijuana this year. Tell us about that. Right.
S2: Right. So they have three people in the case of Margarita martinez , who they've already been through several hearings , several preliminary hearing. What happened is that they think that Margarita , days before he was killed , there was a news report published , in fact , the investigative weekly magazine that named the head notorious gangster Dante El Cabo 20 , and gave information about his criminal network. And these individuals who killed Margarito , according to their text messages that are part of this case , believed that Margarita was the one that was responsible for supplying set up with that information about how these criminal networks.
S2: She wasn't at the time of her murder doing anything or producing any investigative reports that were highlighting the criminal activities of this group or calling out the Arellano Felix cartel or anything like that. So that's where a lot of the questions come in about whether the people that killed both of these journalists were actually from the same criminal cell. And why the Arellano Felix cartel is the one that's being named. And many critics say maybe it's because they're the ones with the least amount of power right now in Baja , California. So they're sort of the easiest ones to blame. And these criminals that are in custody , they are very low level criminals. You know , they're not these gangsters with a bunch of power and guns and drugs and money. They're just low level hitmen on the totem pole. And so the law enforcement officials on both sides of the border say , really , you know , they could have been working for anyone the way that the criminal networks have sort of dissolved right now. And that's very indicative of the overall crime problem in Mexico. Right. You know , it's all chaos at the bottom right now , whereas it used to be these three major drug cartels battling it out in a very kind of clear alliances. Now , everything sort of just dissolved into chaos. And you never really know who's fighting who or who's working with who.
S4: And overall , are there doubts about the lack of transparency in this investigation ? Right.
S2: There's definitely huge doubts about the lack of transparency in the case of Lawrence Maldonado , because the case has been closed to the public. So we aren't able to hear what they call as their investigative folder. Right. They have these binders and they have all the information on the crimes. But and an open cases , journalists are able to go sit in on those hearings and hear all the evidence as it's presented. That's not the case with lawyers , because the federal government claims that there's a witness who needs to be protected. And so they've closed the hearing. And so we haven't been able to hear any information about how they've come to the conclusion that that these criminals were responsible for her murder and which is highly questionable , especially because the person that she was speaking out against was the state governor before she was killed. She had just won a long time legal battle against the state governor. And over that , like a labor dispute that she had won and she had said she was presenting more evidence and she was going to present evidence a day or two after when she was killed. And so that's what critics are really calling into question , is that there needs to be some transparency when the person that she was in a fight with was this state actor.
S4: Now , as I said before , nearly a dozen journalists have been killed this year in Mexico.
S2: I get very worried about the safety of my colleagues , but I never felt any sense of of danger because I work for a US media organisation and so I feel like there's , there's never been a US journalist killed in Mexico. And so there's a certain level I guess of , of protection there. I working for a US company. However , as I explained before how everything sort of dissolved into chaos now and there's all these more low level , fractured , splintered criminal groups fighting the feeling on the streets in some neighborhoods is anything could happen at any time. But I will say , as far as as far as the tourism zones , if you're just doing tourism , you're usually pretty safe. And if you go off into areas that you don't know that are unrecognised to you and are not for tourists , that's where you might be in more danger of petty crime. Right. So it depends , I guess , where you are and kind of what kind of story you are doing. But some of my stories do take me into areas that are not sort of your typical tourist zones of teaching.
S4: I've been speaking with San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Wendy Fry. Wendy , thanks so much. Stay safe.
S2: Thank you , Maureen.
S1: May is Mental Health Awareness Month. So we wanted to take a closer look at where the evolving field of psychiatry is finding success and failure. Author and academic Andrew Scull says the U.S. has largely failed in treating mental illness through its history. Calling it a riddle we must continue to strive to solve. Skull is an author and distinguished professor of sociology emeritus at UC San Diego. His new book , Desperate Remedies Psychiatry's Turbulent Quest to Cure Mental Illness , comes out next week. Professor Skull , welcome to Midday Edition.
S2: Thank you very much for having me.
S1: So your book is about the history of psychiatry in America.
S2: And what I wanted to do was look at the whole arc of psychiatry in America , where it came from and where it ended up , where we are now. So I was very concerned with how it was that psychiatry came to understand mental illness through time , because that has varied a great deal. And what it tried to do to treat mental patients , because those two things are somewhat separate , although they tend to go hand in hand.
S1: In your book , you talk about three eras of psychiatry in America's history that in many cases did far more harm than good. Tell us about those.
S2: Well , psychiatry started with extreme optimism and early American psychiatrists thought they would cure 70 or 80% of those they treated. They unfortunately could not do that. And by the end of the century , things were looking pretty bleak. And they tended to blame the victim to say the patients were biologically defective , and that was why they couldn't be cured. Ambitious psychiatrists weren't happy with that , and so they started searching for cures with a population that was shut up in mental hospitals in every sense of the term. They were locked away and their voices were silenced and they had no voice in their treatment. So it was easy to experiment on them. And we saw things like explanations of mental illness that traced it back to chronic infections in the body. And in the period before you had antibiotics , the only way to limit eliminate those infections was actually to cut the offending pieces out. And they started with teeth and tonsils when that didn't work. Instead of saying , Oh , the theory is wrong , they started taking out stomachs and spleens and colons and uteruses , and that persisted for more than a couple of decades. There were other attempts. The most famous or infamous of them all emerged in the last half of the 1930s , and that was lobotomy , which involved physically damaging the frontal lobes of the brain. So there were a number of other drastic interventions which in retrospect look horrible but at the time were greeted as possibly saving the mentally ill from a lifetime of illness.
S1: You write about how psychiatry has really relied on the biological aspects of mental illness while ignoring the social aspects of it.
S2: And the problem with that is much of mental illness , even serious mental illness , clearly has roots in trauma. And then social factors and psychological factors. I think monism that is choosing either the psychological or the biological is a serious mistake in approaching these things in American psychiatry in the last four decades has really gone overboard on just one side of that equation. And fortunately it's led to some improvements , but they are very limited. And research in genetics and in neuroscience has given us a good deal more information about the brain and about genetics. But in terms of its clinical usefulness , what it does for patients , it's done nothing. And one of the ways we can see that is if you look at how long the rest of us live and how long people with serious mental illness live , you'll see that the differential is 15 to 25 years. So the mentally ill die that much sooner and that gap is growing , not diminishing. So that's not a good sign. Beyond that , of course , a lot of mental illness is of a somewhat milder but still distressing sort. And we're seeing an epidemic of that at the moment , post-COVID , especially among the young. And that's a very worrisome development. And it's obviously not something we can explain simply in terms of biology.
S1: You also write how ignoring the social aspects of psychiatry feed into racial disparities in mental illness treatment that persist even today.
S2: In the first half of the 19th century , black Americans were largely kept out of the asylum. When they did start to enter the asylum after the Civil War , they usually were put into separate but not equal institutions or where they were put into racially mixed institutions. They were segregated in separate wards. And of course , as we see in other aspects of American history , the treatments were very much worse if you were a racial minority. The same thing happened with with women. I spoke of lobotomy earlier. We know from studies of individual hospitals that even though men slightly outnumbered women in mental hospitals , about 65% of all lobotomies were performed on women. Racial discrimination obviously persisted and persists. So we're in an era now where we've shut mental hospitals and we rejected the mentally ill. We talk about community treatment , except there's no community and effectively there's no treatment. The single largest places of treatment for the mentally ill now are the Los Angeles County Jail , Cook County Jail in Chicago , Rikers Island in New York. And disproportionately those prisoners who are mentally ill or racial minorities.
S1: In the mid 1900s. Psychiatry started to use medicines to treat mental illness , giving rise to the pharmaceutical industry.
S2: And I don't want to suggest that there's been no progress. There was the first antipsychotics came to market in 1954 , the first antidepressants shortly after that. The first so-called minor tranquilizers like Milltown and later Valium. And again , in the same general period. And those medications for some patients clearly marked an improvement. Psychiatrists weren't lying when they saw changes and changes , they interpreted as positive. But the problem with those medications is that no psychiatric penicillin , what they do is help with symptoms. And that's a good thing. But they only help some patients by no means all , and they carry with them a pretty heavy price and side effects. So when you choose whether to use drug treatment or not , it's the best remedy we have , best set of remedies we have now. But they're at best a very partial they're a Band-Aid , not a real solution.
S2: That's the biological bias. Let's look to neuroscience and genetics. And largely those have failed to deliver clinical improvements. I think , as always , when you're operating in a position of extreme uncertainty , the smart thing is to spread your risk , to try multiple approaches. And indeed , American psychiatry needs to focus. It seems to be much more on how they can help patients not to dismiss the need for primary research , for basic research , that there also needs to be an inquiry into how we can help our patients in the here and now in better ways , how we can solve the problem of , for example , all the homeless , mentally ill we see in our streets , the numbers of patients consigned to jails. This is really a scandal and it's not psychiatry scandal alone. This is policy choices by politicians and indeed by the rest of us that I think have been seriously misguided. Hmm.
S1: Hmm. I have been speaking with author and professor of Sociology Emeritus at UC San Diego , Andrew Skull. His new book , Desperate Remedies Psychiatry's Turbulent Quest to Cure Mental Illness , comes out Tuesday , May 17th. Professor , thank you for joining us.
S2: Thank you so much.
S4: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. In March , the San Diego Italian Film Festival lost its founder , Victor LaRussa , to an aggressive form of stomach cancer. He was 80 years old. Tomorrow , the festival will celebrate his life with a screening of the Italian film Loose Cannons at the Museum of Photographic Arts. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO speaks with his stepdaughter and new president of the board , Jenifer DAVIES , about his legacy and how the festival will move forward.
S2: Jennifer San Diego lost a cultural icon in Victor , Russia , who started the San Diego Italian Film Festival more than a decade ago.
S9: And , you know , I really thought about like what prompted him. And I think it was just him having the time and the inclination. I mean , he always loved movies. He taught film. It was his joy. And so I think he just started meeting people that were willing to have that kind of conversation. And he saw the possibilities to create something larger than himself.
S2: You mentioned the word conversation , and that's something that I always associate with the Italian Film.
S9: Festival and with Victor.
S2: But it was the sense that you.
S9: Don't just watch a film.
S2: You need to watch it and then hang out for a.
S4: Long time afterward.
S9: Talking about it. And why was that so important to him for Victor ? You know , I always say Victor knowledge was never a solitary pursuit. It was never a monologue. Right. It was it was a discussion and a dialogue. And through that discussion and dialogue , you could learn more about each other , about the art and that exploration. And that was what excited Victor the most. I think about the Italian festival or films or any sort of knowledge was the ability to to work together , to come to a solution or a conversation. And even if you didn't agree , that journey was very important. And the films , he loved films , but in a lot of ways , Italian films were just a vehicle to have the conversation , to have a party , to connect with people. And that's one of the things I always saw with Victor and that I hope I've learned from is he saw connections where other people didn't. You know , he always wanted to figure out who he could collaborate with , with the Italian film festival , even if it was far afield and that normal person wouldn't see it. He always found connections. And again , the Italian Film Festival was a way to give back to the community. That had given a lot to him. But it was also a way for Victor to stay engaged with this big , huge brain and and and meet new people and have new ideas and and be pushed. I mean , he was 80 years old , but nobody ever thought he was that age because he was still young at heart , because he still wanted to engage with the world around him and learn new things from new people. You mentioned film as a.
S2: Vehicle , and it also seemed to be a vehicle for him to share Italian culture. And that seemed to be a very important part of the festival.
S9: No , it was. I mean , you know , Victor was from very humble background and humble beginnings. But the Italian experience , both as an immigrant and the emotions and the the drama of Italian life , I mean , that was something that really Victor understood and felt and he wanted to share because it is a very special sort of , you know , background and and approach. You know , as he always said , it was a piazza , not just Italian films , but an Italian perspective film was a vehicle , but it was a vehicle to share a larger worldview that Italians seemed to bring to the world , whether it be good food , good conversation , emotion , drama , comedy , you know , deep feelings , deep thoughts. You know , that was all the things that Victor identified with his Italian heritage and what he wanted people to see and know and explore with them.
S2: And you were taking over as president of the board for the San Diego Italian Film Festival. And what things are you really striving to kind of keep in terms.
S9: Of what Victor's initial vision was for the festival and want it to continue to be the conversation ? I want it to be the piazza. I want it to be a place where people feel welcome and can gather and experience things together , whether it be film or food or just celebrations or conversations. So but as I say to people , you know , Victor is irreplaceable. So I can't do the things that Victor could do where he could talk deeply about films and history in Italian culture. So it's like we're basically going to have to build with a bunch of different people to replace Victor and he's irreplaceable. So it's like for people that don't know the intimate details of how the film festival goes , we want people to not notice that there's a difference , right ? That to them , they're still going to have these great conversations , these great parties. But we're going to have to , on the back end , do a lot of things that Victor didn't do , because Victor could just do it by being Victor and , you know , having a coffee and and sort of just , oh , it'll it'll work out. So we're going to have to be a little bit more professional on the. Back end , but we don't want anyone to see that. We don't want anyone to know that. We want it to say very true to Victor's vision of , you know , the piazza.
S2: The festival is going to be having an event this Friday.
S9: And then we'll have a very short programme , including a tribute video to Victor , where some of us , including yourself , were interviewed to talk a little bit about Victor. And then we're going to watch the movie , which is I mean , I can't imagine one Tommy. Lehman , which is based in Tokyo , which is where Viktor's family's from. And it's a fun comedy about family identity and business. And then we'll just have a short Q&A session. But it's really the kind of it's the kind of thing the film , first of all , always did. And it's what Victor enjoyed the most. And it's just sort of a night to remember him and kind of feel at one with him , even though he's not there in person , in spirit , he will be. That's the hope.
S2: When Victor seemed to have left a legacy in terms of one in his life to be celebrated and wanting to have an event like this to be very joyous and about film and community and food.
S9: And people know he did. I mean , when when when we found out the grim diagnosis , I mean , the first thing he said to me and my mom was , okay , you guys are going to have to start planning a party. And so , you know , we want the celebration to continue because if you knew Victor , he was not a person. He would want a celebration. He would want the celebration to continue. And like I said , for Victor , life was a party and he wanted everyone invited.
S2: And what do you think defined Victor and what do you think his.
S9: Legacy is going to be ? Victor With so many things. I mean , the word that I've used before , he was big , right ? He was big in everything. He had a big personality , big hugs , so generous , big brain. You know , someone said expansive. And I think that's sort of what it is like. He he had such a desire to connect with people and to make connections. And the Italian Film Festival was a vehicle for those connections. And so I think in creating the community , I mean , it was great to see how many people Victor touched throughout his life. And it is a community. And they and it's sort of like even if we don't all know each other intimately , we know each other because there was a connection with Victor sort of at the center. And I think that's what it is , his ability to bring people together. And now that community is going to continue to work to make sure that this film festival and Victor's approach to life is his legacy. And so I think that's I mean , that's a pretty , pretty good legacy. Well , I.
S2: Want to thank you very much for talking about the San Diego Italian Film Festival and about Victor Lucia.
S9: Well , thank you so much. We really appreciate this.
S4: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with Jennifer Davis. The San Diego Italian Film Festival will hold an Italian movie night and fundraiser in honor of its late founder , Victor Urrutia , on Friday at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

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A federal appeals court struck down a state law prohibiting the sale of semi-automatic rifles to people under the age of 21. The law passed shortly after the 2019 Poway Synagogue shooting. Then, a national baby formula shortage is a serious issue for some San Diego families. And, two more journalists were killed in Mexico this week bringing the total deaths to 11 this year. The murders are rarely solved and investigations often lack transparency. Next, May is mental health awareness month. UC San Diego professor emeritus Andrew Scull has a new book coming out on the subject. He says the U.S. has largely failed in treating mental illness throughout its history, calling it “a riddle we must continue to strive to solve.” Finally, the San Diego Italian Film Festival will celebrate the life of its late founder Victor Laruccia with a screening of the Italian film “Loose Cannons” at the Museum of Photographic Arts on Friday.