The death of seven young adults, including the suspected shooter, in a Santa Barbara rampage Friday has once again made Americans take a painful look at the country’s gun culture and laws.
During a press conference Saturday, Richard Martinez — the father of one of the victims, Chris Martinez — lashed out at the National Rifle Association and politicians who have continued to block tougher gun legislation.
“Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights — what about Chris’ right to live?” Richard Martinez told reporters outside a sheriff’s station in Santa Barbara.
“When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness. We don’t have to live like this’? Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘Not one more.’”
During an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said Friday’s horror had pushed him to renew efforts to table legislation aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of “dangerous” individuals.
He said gun-control bills could be reconfigured “to center on mental health, which is a point where we can agree that we need more resources to make the country healthier and to make sure that these kinds of horrific, insane, mad occurrences are stopped.” Blumenthal warned that Congress “will be complicit if we fail to act.”
Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), a prominent gun-control campaigner, added his voice to the growing chorus for greater regulation. He told the Washington Post that Friday’s bloodshed demonstrated “once again the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.”
He added, “We’ve got to look at how we define mental illness, who is denied weapons and who is not, and focus the discussion.”
Attempts to pass laws aimed at increasing the extent of background checks, and restricting the sale of certain types of guns, were made after the Newtown massacre in 2012 but were batted down months later in the Senate.
Police have identified Elliot Rodger as the suspect believed to be responsible for Friday’s atrocity, killing three men in his apartment before shooting another three people to death. Rodger is believed to have taken his own life during the rampage, according to authorities. Another 13 people were injured during the melee in the Isla Vista beach community near the University of California at Santa Barbara campus.