Flowers placed at the I.V. Deli in Isla Vista on May 25, 2014, form a part of a makeshift memorial to victims of a shooting rampage.(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
Mixed in with prayers and sympathy after the Isla Vista shooting and stabbing rampage in Santa Barbara County were renewed calls Saturday to pass stronger gun control legislation.
“Although the circumstances of this attack are under investigation, we do know that real solutions exist to prevent most of the 90 gun deaths that happen in our nation every day, and that those solutions are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, in a statement Saturday.
The Santa Barbara rampage left six people and the attacker dead. The father of one of the victims blamed politicians and gun rights proponents for the death of his 20-year-old son, Christopher Martinez.
“Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live?” Richard Martinez told reporters Saturday. “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!’”
Authorities identified the attacker as Elliot Rodger, 22, a community college student. They recovered three semi-automatic handguns that belonged to him. The guns – two Sig Sauer p226 model handguns and a Glock 34 – had been legally purchased from federally licensed dealers and were registered to Rodger, according to Bill Brown of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.
Authorities also recovered 34 loaded 10-round magazines for the Sig Sauers and seven 10-round magazines for the Glock, Brown said at a news conference Saturday evening.
The Brady Campaign group has advocated for expanded background checks, among other changes to gun laws, but Republicans in Congress and statehouses have thwarted such measures.
The Newtown Action Alliance, formed in the wake of the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, sent prayers westward Saturday. The group was hosting a Youth Gun Violence Prevention Summit in Connecticut as news of the Isla Vista rampage spread. Among those on hand to help teenagers and young adults come up with ideas was Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech University shooting massacre in 2007.
At least 72 shootings have occurred on school campuses in the 17 months since the Sandy Hook case, according to the Everytown for Gun Safety coalition. Friday night’s mass shooting occurred in a community adjacent to the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Former NASA Capt. Mark Kelly, whose wife former Rep. Gabrielle Gifford was shot in the head in a mass shooting during a 2011 constituent event in Tucson, said in a statement that the couple were angered and shocked.
“Every time we learn of another senseless shooting like this one, our hearts break and we know that no words will bring peace to the families who lost loved ones,” said Kelly, cofounder of the pro-gun-control Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Earlier this week, Kelly joined Democratic lawmakers in backing legislation that would give $10 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the causes and effects of gun violence. Such research had been impossible until last year, when President Obama signed an executive order scuttling a ban put in place by Congress in 1996.
In introducing the legislation, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said it’s time to treat gun violence “like the public health crisis it is.”
“If we want to prevent injury and deaths from guns, we need to know what can be done to prevent it,” he said in a statement. “No one should be afraid of more non-partisan, scientific research of this issue – not Democrats, not Republicans, and not the NRA.”
A National Rifle Association spokeswoman called Markey’s bill an “unethical” proposal that fosters an “abuse of taxpayer funds for anti-gun political propaganda under the guise of ‘research,’” according to a statement to ProPublica.
On Saturday, at least one U.S. lawmaker denounced the Santa Barbara violence.
“I join the nation in mourning and praying for the victims & their loved ones -- such senseless act of violence must stop,” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said on Twitter.
An attorney for the Rodger family acknowledged the situation and told reporters that his client will make it a mission in life to prevent a similar tragedy.
The family supports gun control laws, said family attorney Alan Shifman said, according to the Associated Press.