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US gun violence over weekend puts focus on easy access to weapons

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yanti lasmi
·May 17, 2022·

3 min read

America on Monday was picking up the pieces from a weekend of gun violence that – outside the cost of lives – has refocused the country’s leadership on the toxic interplay of political ideology and easy access to handguns and battlefield weapons.

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In the most recent case, two people were killed Sunday and at least three others hospitalized after a shooting at a large Houston, Texas, flea market. In California, also on Sunday, at least one person died and five were wounded – including four listed in critical condition – after a shooting at a church with a predominantly Taiwanese congregation in Orange county, south of Los Angeles.

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot enacted a weekend curfew for unaccompanied minors at a city park after a 16-year-old boy was killed there. At least 33 people were shot, five fatally, in weekend violence across the city, police said.

The shootings, each horrific in their own way, punctuated the weekend’s main horror: an 18-year-old espousing white supremacist ideology who went to an African American neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday and – in less than two minutes – gunned down 13 people at a grocery, killing 10.

That shooting – one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent memory – has renewed scrutiny on internet-promulgated hate speech, access to assault-style guns and body armor, and the inability of law enforcement authorities, elected politicians, religious leaders and the commercial sector to stop such violence from recurring.

In the Buffalo shooting at Tops Friendly grocery, white suspect Payton Gendron is accused of specifically targeting a Black neighborhood and taking aim at Black victims – shoppers, grocery workers and a security guard.

Gendron was never charged with a crime, and investigators had no further contact with him after his release from a hospital where he was mentally evaluated for about 36 hours.

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Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the threat Gendron had made was “general” in nature and unrelated to race. “Nobody called in,” he said. “Nobody called any complaints.”

New York is one of several states that, in recent years, have enacted “red flag” laws which are intended to prevent mass shootings, but they rely on a legal petition to temporarily seize people’s firearms, or prevent them from buying guns.

Federal authorities, led by the FBI which is investigating the attack as a hate crime, have said they are working to confirm the authenticity of a racist 180-page document, purportedly written by Gendron, that laid out a plan to terrorize nonwhite, non-Christian people.

In a Twitch livestream video of the attack, Gendron allegedly trains his gun on a white person behind a checkout counter before apologizing and moving on.

A purported screenshot of the video circulating online showed the N-word scrawled in white, along with the number “14”, which is an apparent reference to this 14-word white supremacist phrase: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

 
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