At the Tretta Family home in the Santa Clarita Valley, President Biden’s announced action on Thursday to curb gun violence wasn’t a plan— it was personal.
November 14, 2019, the Tretta family's daughter, 15-year-old Mia, was one of five students shot during a mass shooting at Saugus High School by a fellow student. Mia and two other classmates survived. But her best friend,14-year-old Dominic Blackwell, and another friend, 15-year-old Gracie Muehlberger, did not.
On Thursday, I sat with the family in their backyard. Mia and mom Tiffany both wore t-shirts urging an end to gun violence. Dad Sean was there too. Tiffany showed me images on her phone she had taken during the President’s speech. They hung onto President Biden’s every word as he outlined his series of executive orders responding to urban gun violence.
Biden’s modest changes include a call for reviewing federal policy surrounding "ghost gun kits" — handmade or self-assembled firearms that don’t include serial numbers. The President also urged the Senate to pass bills to expand background checks.
But the "ghost gun" reference was especially impactful to this family. The weapon used by the young assailant in the 2019 Saugus attack was a "ghost gun."
Mia went back to school last week after the school lifted its most stringent COVID-19 orders. In-person learning was allowed once again.
Mia said of this gun control cause, "I’m never going to stop fighting for this ... never going to stop fighting for my friends."
Her mom said with tears welling up in her eyes, "We saw that with the President and the Vice President’s words, they are going to do something.... not just for show."
Tiffany Tretta called "ghost guns" ludicrous.
She said, "There’s no other reason for those parts to exist other than to make a firearm."
Sean Tretta said, "It’s sad in our nation... we should be able to go to school, a concert, to the grocery store and not look over our shoulder."
Both parents said they were deeply proud of their daughter. Of the pain they’ve endured, most specifically their daughter, Dad said, "It’s a lifelong process. She’s always been strong. This made her stronger. She’s vowed to honor her friends. It’s most admirable."
Mia, 16, said simply, "Everyone deserves to feel safe."