Press conference on Monday's fatal shooting spree, Wednesday, July 5, 2023, in Philadelphia. (Photo: AP/Matt Slocum)

We did not need this shooter to tell us that we had a problem with gun violence in America and that we needed to get rid of those AR-15’s assault rifles, which are weapons of war. But now, we must all stand together and make the changes needed.

Rivers of tears have flooded the streets of The City of Love, and the pain will not be washed away so easily.

I spent the last summer in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed, and many others injured. Some of the children were decapitated by these harsh bullets.

Today I am working with families in Colorado Springs involved with the shooting at Club Q, where 5 were killed and 25 injured. I am still amazed that no congressional steps have been taken to eliminate these god-awful weapons.

The pain and loss to these families and their loved ones is huge, and the damage to the community is incalculable. The fear is that this can happen to anyone anywhere.

Having lived in The City of Brotherly/Sisterly Love, I, too, am hurt by yet another senseless act of violence. It is the innocent who are the victims.

While many affected calls for changes in gun laws and look to the heavens for some answer, the NRA and its political allies dare to stand tall amongst the lost lives and tell lies about the 2nd Amendment and their right to own weapons. These pro-gun individuals instead, continue to push laws that make it easier to buy weapons and bullets, and push for weapons to be carried in public.

You might wonder why, if the NRA and their right-wing allies push for these horrific laws, ¿why don’t they allow armed individuals into their meetings and conventions? Just because they know that some of these gun toting individuals are walking time bombs.

There have been 184 mass shootings in 2023 so far, which is defined by the Gun Violence Archive as an incident in which four or more victims are shot or killed. These mass shootings have led to 248 deaths and 744 injuries.

More than 13,900 people killed in gun violence up to this year. And we know that we have more than 400 million weapons out there in the hands of our citizens.

At a Rally in 2013 in Seattle, where the mayor was with others organizing a march and rally against gun violence, 5 white men armed with long rifles stood about 50 yards from the gathering on a small hill, trying to look tough and to scare us. I was on the cabinet of the mayor of the time and decided to confront these individuals. I gathered up Bob, a tall white bearded Anglo friend to go with me. You must understand I had worked with tough gang members in El Salvador, Los Angeles and a few in Seattle, and know when I should be cautious.

They were surprised when we confronted them, asking if some of the gang members we knew could join them since they too liked their weapons. I must admit that for a period, I carried 2 loaded guns on me to intimidate my enemies and, perhaps, injure them if necessary.

It took the leader of these gun groups a minute, and finally, he said, ‘We would have to do a background check on them”. I smiled, knowing that they did not have to go through a background check to purchase their weapons. One day I would like to buy 500 NRA memberships for gang members and perhaps attend their national convention.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner organized many community leaders and family members to gather to grieve and look for solutions. I was driving and could not get all of it to land on my car radio. But we need these discussions to push us to do everything we can to curb this form of violence.

Homies Unidos in Los Angeles is an organization that deals with the youth and their families to work to diminish violence in all its forms. I started this organization in 1996 in El Salvador, and it is today run well by a former MS-13 boss, who has now become a great leader.

We must teach our people what to do when we get angry and hurt. We have not been taught how to defuse our emotions and avoid vengeance. Instead, we honor those who get vengeance and not the peacemakers.

Tania Romero a Film Maker from Philadelphia, and I, are making a documentary about the shooting at Club Q, to teach about the violence and hate that embroils these situations. The film will be called “Atrevida, the Fierro Story.” We will use it as a tool to educate the public. For more information, contact

My heart aches for my Philly family, and I hope that this City of Love can give them the support and comfort they will need in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Perhaps this great City of Love can build a monument to honor them and all those who preach and teach nonviolence.

Richie Fierro, the ex-military man who, without a weapon, stopped the shooter at Club Q, reminded me that PTSD is real and that many will suffer of it, because of this violence and will need medical support.

I believe that the great city of Philly will hold its people close as they have to travel down that road filled with nightmares, pains, and so many unanswered questions.


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