A shooting that killed six people and injured 12 in the heart of downtown Sacramento early Sunday renewed calls among officials and activists for more gun safety and violence prevention laws.
Authorities said the shooting happened around 2 a.m. in a crowded popular entertainment district. Officers heard gunshots and arrived at the scene at 10th and K streets, about two blocks northwest of the state capitol, where they found several injured people.
The motive for the shooting was unknown, and police were unsure whether it was related to an ongoing event at the time. It’s also unclear whether the shooting was gang-related, officials said.
Council members said they have invested resources and money in youth outreach programs to prevent such tragedies. But more needs to be done, they said.
“Everything I heard about what happened last night, it didn’t have to be that bad, and it didn’t have to happen at all if we had the right laws in place,” Sacramento City Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela said.
Valenzuela said putting more law enforcement on the streets will not necessarily end the violence. She said the state and federal government needed to “step up the guns.”
“I don’t want us to try to pretend we can stand on every corner and stop every bad thing from happening,” she said. “We need to look at the social issues that explain why this is happening.”
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called the shooting a “senseless and unacceptable tragedy” during a press conference on 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 agree that “there is absolutely no place for rapid-fire assault weapons anywhere, anyway.”
“Can we make this distinction? Obviously we can’t,” he said. “We couldn’t do it after Sandy Hook. … It is a disease in our country. It is a disease in our culture. And until we confront it and start making those reasonable distinctions, respect responsible gun ownership and get rid of those weapons of mass destruction and commit to doing that, how can we tell us that something like this will never happen again?
Police have confirmed that at least one firearm was recovered from the scene. It is unclear what type of firearm was used in Sunday’s shooting. Authorities have not confirmed whether a semi-automatic weapon was used, although witnesses have described in interviews with The Times hearing a rapid succession of gunfire.
California-based Moms Demand Action said in a statement it was “sick of waking up to the 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.
Sunday’s shooting was one of three the country’s deadliest mass murders this year, along with two other shootings that also left six people dead in Milwaukee and Corsicana, Texas, according to data compiled by Gun Violence Archive, a research group in Washington, D.C. The Worst mass shootings last year each left 10 dead, in San Jose and Boulder, Colorado.
Nationwide, 120 people have been killed in mass shootings so far this year, according to the group data.
While California has some of the strictest 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 hard to find, unnumbered and relatively easy to assemble at home.
The proliferation of homemade “ghost weapons” has skyrocketed in Los Angeles, contributing to more than 100 violent crimes last year, according to a report by the Los Angeles Police Department.
“Sadly, we once again mourn the lives lost and injured in another horrific act of gun violence,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement after Sunday’s shooting. “Jennifer and I send our deepest condolences to family, friends and the wider community affected by this terrible tragedy.”
“The scourge of gun violence continues to be a crisis in our country, and we must resolve to end this carnage,” he added.