California killings: Another trail of dead. Another search for sanity on gun control after Elliot Rodger rampage

The heartfelt response of one bereaved father pricked America’s conscience. But the right to bear arms is unlikely to be circumscribed

Los Angeles

There were renewed calls for stricter gun laws in the US on Sunday, following Friday night’s shooting spree in the southern California college town of Isla Vista, which left seven dead including the gunman, British-born Elliot Rodger. Rodger, who was 22, is also suspected of having stabbed to death a further three victims at his apartment close to the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Police recovered three semi-automatic handguns and more than 40 10-round magazines belonging to Rodger, a student at Santa Barbara City College. All three firearms had been purchased legally and registered to the suspect.

On Saturday night, several hundred students and community members marched from UCSB to a park in Isla Vista, where a vigil was held to mourn the victims.

Richard Martinez, whose 20-year-old son Christopher was among the dead, told reporters he blamed the gun lobby for his son’s death. “Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA,” Mr Martinez said. “They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live?”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said yesterday he wanted to revive gun control legislation rejected by Congress in the wake of the Newtown school massacre in the state in 2012, saying it could have helped prevent this weekend’s deadly events.

Mr Blumenthal said on CBS’s Face the Nation that the legislation, which failed last year, could be revised.

“Obviously, not every kind of gun violence is going to be prevented by laws out of Washington,” he said. “But at least we can make a start and I am going to urge that we bring back those bills, maybe reconfigure them.”

“Congress will be complicit if we fail in that,” he added.

Warning: Some viewers may find the following video disturbing


 

Alan Shifman, a lawyer for the Rodger family, said they too supported stricter gun control laws. Dan Gross, president of the gun control advocacy group the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement: “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.”

Police believe Friday’s killings began when Rodger stabbed to death three flatmates at his apartment complex. At around 9.30pm, he allegedly approached a nearby UCSB sorority house and opened fire on three women, killing two of them. According to Bill Brown of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, the suspect then went to a local delicatessen, where he shot dead Chris Martinez, a UCSB student. Students comfort each other at a vigil to honour the victims Students comfort each other at a vigil to honour the victims

Rodger then drove through the streets of Isla Vista, firing on pedestrians at random. He exchanged fire with sheriff’s deputies before crashing his BMW into a parked car. He was found dead in the driver’s seat, from what authorities said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

There is little likelihood, however, that the incident will lead to significant changes in existing federal gun laws. A concerted effort by the Obama administration to strengthen firearms legislation in the wake of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was stopped by stiff resistance from the gun lobby and its allies in Congress.

 

President Obama claimed at least one small triumph last year, when he signed an executive order lifting a 1996 ban on federal research into gun violence. Last week, Democrats in Congress introduced a bill that would allocate $10m (£6m) to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to study the causes and effects of gun violence. Richard Martinez talks about his son, Christopher, one of Elliot Rodger’s victims Richard Martinez talks about his son, Christopher, one of Elliot Rodger’s victims

That legislation is backed by the former Nasa astronaut and leading gun control advocate Mark Kelly, whose wife Gabrielle Giffords, a former Democrat congresswoman, suffered a major head injury during a mass shooting at an event in Tucson, Arizona, in 2011. Responding to the violence in Isla Vista, Mr Kelly said: “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.”

Following Friday’s shootings, it emerged that the authorities had encountered Rodger on at least three previous occasions. In July last year, he had called police to claim that he was the victim of an assault, yet the deputy who responded to the call determined that Rodger himself had probably been the aggressor. No charges were filed. In January, Rodger reported his flatmate for stealing three candles, worth $22. The flatmate was booked for petty theft.

In April, a member of Rodger’s family alerted the authorities to a series of troubling videos that the 22-year-old had posted to YouTube, in which he spoke of his extreme loneliness and resentment of women, and made threats of violence and suicide. Police reportedly visited Rodger’s apartment, found him “polite and courteous”, and left.

In a 137-page document written by the suspect and later obtained by the media, Rodger mentioned the recent police visit to his apartment, saying that he feared the officer would find the stash of weapons in his room. “That would have ended everything,” he wrote.

Yet none of their encounters with Rodger gave the authorities any serious cause for suspicion; instead, those missed opportunities merely demonstrate the difficulty of predicting and preventing such random outbursts of violence. In the 17 months since 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adult staff at Sandy Hook, more than 70 further shootings have occurred on US school campuses.

Police are now investigating Rodger’s final video, entitled “Elliot Rodger’s retribution”, which was posted on YouTube shortly before the shootings on Friday. In the recording, Rodger sat in his car, looking into the camera and laughing as he promised a “day of retribution”.

Guns in the Golden state: the rules

Buying a firearm

Firearms must be bought via a licensed dealer, and every sale is recorded by the state, which imposes a 10-day waiting period on purchases. Prospective gun owners must pass a written test to obtain a Handgun Safety Certificate.

Assault weapon ban

Assault weapons and magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition are banned, and while California residents don’t need a permit to own a firearm, they must have one to carry it outside their home or business.

Permit for concealed arms

To obtain a concealed weapons permit, California residents are required to complete a training course, to demonstrate “good moral character” and to prove that they have “good cause” to carry the gun. California is one of just 11 US states that demands applicants meet such conditions.

In February, a federal court struck down the clause requiring residents to show “good cause” for carrying a concealed weapon. Yet the state’s attorney general, Kamala Harris, called the decision a threat to public safety, and demanded a review of the ruling. An appeal is pending.

TIM WALKER California killings: Elliot Rodger's family warned police about killer's disturbing online videos before shootings and stabbings

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Rodgers showered praise on Balotelli last week, which led to speculation he could sign the AC Milan front man
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music(who aren't Arctic Monkeys)
News
Lizards, such as Iguanas (pictured), have a unique pattern of tissue growth
science
Extras
indybest
News
Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose in 2007
people
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer - Newcastle - £30,000 - £37,000 + benefits

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Digital Project Manager/BA

£300 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Digital/Ecommerc...

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home