Sacramento mass shooting sparks renewed calls for stricter gun control laws

Sacramento, California - A shooting that killed six people and wounded 12 in the heart of downtown Sacramento early Sunday has renewed calls among officials and activists for more gun safety and violence prevention laws.

Police officer David Bell stands watch at the scene of a mass shooting in downtown Sacramento, California.
Police officer David Bell stands watch at the scene of a mass shooting in downtown Sacramento, California.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Authorities said the shooting occurred around 2:00 AM in a popular entertainment district crowded with people. Officers heard shots and arrived at the scene at 10th and K streets, roughly two blocks northwest of the state Capitol, where they found several wounded people.

A motive for the shooting was unknown, and police were not sure whether it was tied to any event going on at the time. It is also unclear whether the shooting was gang related, officials said.

Council members said they have invested resources and money into youth intervention programs in an effort to prevent such tragedies. But more needs to be done, they said.

"Everything I've heard about what happened last night, it didn't need to be that bad, and it didn't need to happen at all if we had the right laws in place," Sacramento City Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela said putting more law enforcement in the streets won't necessarily stop the violence. She said the state and federal government need to "step up on guns."

"I don't want us trying to pretend like we can stand on every corner and keep every bad thing from happening," she said. "We need to look at the social issues underlying why this occurs."

Sacramento mayor speaks out

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called out the "proliferation of assault weapons" in the US after the mass shooting tragedy.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called out the "proliferation of assault weapons" in the US after the mass shooting tragedy.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called the shooting "a senseless and unacceptable tragedy" during a news conference Sunday.

"In what sane society do we allow the proliferation of assault weapons in the way that we see being used indiscriminately, not just in Sacramento but in other parts of the country?" he asked.

He asked if everyone could acknowledge that "there is absolutely no place for rapid-fire assault weapons anywhere, anyhow."

"Can we make that distinction? Obviously we can't," he said. "We couldn't make it after Sandy Hook. ... It is a sickness in our country. It is a sickness in our culture."

"Until we confront it and begin making those reasonable distinctions, to respect responsible gun ownership and get rid of these weapons of mass destruction and commit ourselves to doing that, how can we say that something like this would never happen again?"

Concerns over political inaction

Leticia Harris (c.), whose husband Sergio Harris was killed in the Sacramento mass shooting, and his mother Pamela Harris (r.) speak with police detective Konrad VonSchoech.
Leticia Harris (c.), whose husband Sergio Harris was killed in the Sacramento mass shooting, and his mother Pamela Harris (r.) speak with police detective Konrad VonSchoech.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Police have confirmed that at least one firearm has been recovered from the scene. It is not clear what type of firearm was used in Sunday's shooting.

Authorities have not confirmed whether a semiautomatic weapon was used, though witnesses described in interviews with the LA Times hearing a rapid succession of gunfire.

California's Moms Demand Action said in a statement that they are "sick and tired of waking up to news of the latest senseless act of gun violence."

In 2020, 3,449 people in California died from gun-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While California has some of the strongest gun safety laws in the country, it is surrounded by states with weaker gun laws and has seen an increase in "ghost guns," which are untraceable, unserialized, and relatively easy to assemble at home.

The proliferation of homemade "ghost guns" has skyrocketed in Los Angeles, contributing to more than 100 violent crimes last year, according to a report released by the Los Angeles Police Department.

"Sadly, we once again mourn the lives lost and for those injured in yet another horrendous act of gun violence," Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement following Sunday's shooting. "Jennifer and I send our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and to the wider community impacted by this terrible tragedy."

He added: "The scourge of gun violence continues to be a crisis in our country, and we must resolve to bring an end to this carnage."

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

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