There was another mass shooting here in California last Friday, right in Santa Monica close to where good friends live. It's also close to where Lawrence O'Donnell lives. Did you hear about it?
It didn't seem to splash onto the national radar the way one might expect, given that the deranged young man armed with 1300 rounds of ammunition, an assault-style rifle, and other weapons went to a community college instead of an elementary school. After reporting on Newtown, I guess the national media decided they'd had enough, even though the shooting happened within a few miles of a fundraiser with President Obama in attendance.
Or maybe it's just not newsworthy. After all, college students and older people caught in the crossfire unleashed by a determined, violent young man just doesn't play the same as another angry young man gunning down six-year olds, right?
The suspect, 23-year-old John Zawahri, was known as an angry young man with a “fascination with guns” that worried family friends. Zawahri was born in Lebanon but has lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years. In a press conference on Sunday, police said the troubled young man had planned out the attack and likely hoped to kill hundreds. The spree lasted 10 minutes, ending when police shot and killed Zawahri on the scene.
Zawahri allegedly killed his father and brother and burned down their house before heading toward Santa Monica College, armed with a ballistic vest, an AR-15 assault rifle and a duffel bag filled with an estimated 1,300 rounds of ammunition, magazines, and a .44 revolver. He shot and wounded a woman driving by his house, then carjacked another woman. On the way, he shot at pedestrians and a city bus, injuring 3 people.
Once he arrived at the community college, Zawahri gunned down a groundskeeper, 68-year-old Navarro Franco, killing him immediately, and his 26-year-old daughter, Marcela, who died in the hospital on Sunday. Witnesses say students scattered,jumping out windows and running for their lives. He then shot an unidentified woman in her 50s outside the library, went inside and fired 70 rounds at students who had been studying for exams. Police ultimately shot and killed him in the library.
Zawahri had a history that was worrying, to say the least. He had other run-ins with law enforcement, his parents went through an ugly divorce that included restraining orders and allegations of domestic violence, and he clearly had the means, motive and opportunity to get his hands on a small arsenal with which he planned to kill hundreds of people. According to CNN, he had mental health issues as well.
I'd place better than even odds he didn't buy his weapons and ammunition in California, but the NRA will try to say he did in order to discredit California's laws. This is why laws like universal background checks before guns are purchased matter. I'm betting he picked up those weapons of mass destruction at a gun show, on the Internet, or out of state, where background checks aren't required, and they're not required because the NRA has decided we don't really need them.
“Thanks to the National Rifle Association, that’s all you can do in this country when you have an angry emotionally unstable neighbor who is fascinated with guns, all you can do is worry. Because the NRA has made sure that your angry unstable neighbor will have no trouble getting his hands on the most murderous weapons that exist, and unlimited amounts of ammunition. And the NRA has made sure that the day your angry unstable heavily armed neighbor is overwhelmed by homicidal urges, the question is not – will he kill anyone? The question is: How many people will he kill?”
Friday he killed five people. Their names were Samir Zawahri, Christopher Zawahri, Marcela Franco, her father Carlos Franco, and Margarita Gomez. They had names, they had family, and they deserve attention. National attention. NRA leaders should be damned to hell for allowing these murders to go on, and on, and on.
How many will it be next time?