Breaking News Emails
One father's response to a tragic killing spree in Southern California that took seven lives has given an emotional spark to the nation's smoldering gun control debate.
Richard Martinez — the father of a 20-year-old victim of the rampage unleashed by Elliot Rodger near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus — read a statement announcing his son Christopher's death on Saturday but funneled his grief into an emotional speech about in the U.S.
"Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA (National Rifle Association)," Martinez passionately accused.
"They talk about gun rights but what about Chris' right to live? When will this insanity stop?"
Martinez told reporters that his son Christopher was an English major who wanted to go to law school.
"You don't think it will happen to your child until it does," Martinez said. "When will enough people say, stop this madness we don't have to live like this ... We should say to ourselves, 'not one more.'"
The Brady Campaign, one of the nation's foremost lobbying groups for gun-law reform tweeted Sunday morning with a link to Martinez's comments.
The NRA meanwhile seems to have remained silent so far, and did not respond to calls from NBC News for comment. The powerful organization has generally been critical of any efforts to curtail the right for citizens to own and carry firearms.
It's worth noting that police believe Rodger actually stabbed three people to death in his apartment on Friday before going on his public shooting spree, where three more victims were then gunned down in Isla Vista, near UCSB.
And Rodger, the son of a Hollywood director, had three previous run-ins with police, all within a year of his carefully planned massacre, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said Saturday.
In 2013, he claimed to be the victim of an assault, but investigators determined he was likely the aggressor. In the beginning of 2014, he called police on his roommate for stealing candles.
And in perhaps the most telling evidence of Rodger's state of mind, a family member called police to alert them of videos the had posted on YouTube "regarding suicide and the killing of people," according to a family attorney.
Officers who responded to the call found Rodger to be "polite and courteous," less than a month before he drove through the streets of Isla Vista shooting into seemingly random crowds of people, Brown said.
Rodger later took the videos down, out of fear that they would spark suspicions that would hamper his plan, according to a 141-page manifesto penned by Rodger.
Rodger posted one last video hours before the shootings in which he details his sinister plans, saying his murderous plot of "retribution" is largely because he felt rejected by women.
The Rodger family's attorney, Alan Shifman, told NBC News that Rodger was treated by "multiple" medical and psychiatric specialists.
Even so, Rodger legally purchased the three 9-millimeter semiautomatic handguns found in his car after an apparent self-inflicted gun wound following the spree, Brown said. Another 41 loaded 10-round magazines were found in the suspect's black BMW, Brown said.
"When will enough people say, stop this madness we don't have to live like this? We should say to ourselves, 'not one more.'"
Brown did not say when Rodger purchased the ammunition or guns, but the two SIG Sauer P226 pistols and one Glock 34 Longslide pistol were all purchased from federally licensed dealers in California and registered to Rodger, Brown said.
Santa Barbara’s mayor, Helene Schneider, said Sunday that California “has very strict laws.” She said lawmakers need to focus on “the national healthcare system in our country.”
The California Firearms Laws Summary addresses mental health, but only people who are voluntary patients in mental health facilities are barred from legally purchasing firearms.
Those who communicate a threat to a licensed psychotherapist, who chooses to reveal the threat to law enforcement, are prohibited from possessing a firearm for six months, the California law says.
Brown called the tragedy "the work of a madman," but defended officers who visited Rodger on April 30 and found him to be stable. "I'm not gonna second guess them at this point," Brown said.
The 22-year-old Rodger had also been diagnosed with Asperger's, but there has never been any scientific link between Asperger's and violent outbreaks.