Last Sunday evening, a 19-year-old gunman, who apparently harbored white supremacist views and was carrying what authorities termed an “assault-style rifle,” slipped into a California festival and fired into a crowd before police were able to confront him.
Before responding officers shot and killed Santino William Legan, later identified as the shooter, his rampage left three dead and 12 wounded, some critically. The death toll included a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man who had only recently graduated from college.
Not unexpectedly, the shooting — just the latest in a growing string of similar shootings — brought renewed demands for gun control from California politicians, which already has some of the strictest firearms laws in the nation.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for controls on high-powered, high-capacity guns he labeled “weapons of mass destruction.”
“Today, I met with a 12-year-old who was shot in a bounce house. A grandmother mourning the loss of her 6-year-old grandson,” Newsom tweeted. “This is America today — the shootings continue. Loved ones are buried. Children are gunned down. And Congress does nothing.”
The shooter had legally purchased the semi-automatic military-style rifle earlier this month in Nevada, where his last address is listed. Under a California law that went into effect Jan. 1, residents of that state younger than 21 are barred from firearms purchases unless they are in the military or law enforcement. But the minimum purchase age is 18 in Nevada.
“It keeps happening over and over and over again, on their damn watch,” Newsom told reporters. “I can’t put borders up in a neighboring state where you can buy this damn stuff legally.”
Newsom, a Democrat, is right about Congress. The death toll from mass shootings continues to rise, and Congress has done nothing to quell the bloodshed.
President Donald Trump, who condemned Legan as a “wicked murderer,” is, at the same time, considered one of the most pro-gun presidents in decades — the darling of the National Rifle Association, which spent millions to support his election — has offered nothing in the way of leadership.
If anything constructive can come of this latest mass shooting, it will be that the deaths serve as a catalyst to begin a real non-partisan debate on what can reasonably be done to alleviate such events in the future. We can only hope that’s the case.