Gunman Santino William Legan killed at least three people at a garlic festival in northern California. It was the latest in a long list of mass shootings in the US.
Just moments before opening fire on a crowd at a Northern California festival, the suspected gunman took to his now-deleted Instagram account to promote a book steeped in far-right, anti-Semitic and racist ideas.
On Sunday, Santino William Legan, 19, shot dead at least three people - including a six-year-old boy - and injured several more during the annual Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, according to police.
As he unloaded on the crowd, police shot Legan dead.
In his final Instagram post, Legan wrote that many towns were “overcrowd[ed]” with “hoards of mestizos and Silicon Valley white twats”, the Daily Beast reported on Monday.
Legan’s post echoed notorious conspiracy theories purporting nonwhite immigrants are replacing the white populations in Western countries.
Last October, when a far-right gunman shot dead 11 worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it later emerged that he had taken to the social media outlet Gab to claim Jews were facilitating the replacement of white Americans by encouraging immigration.
In California, Legan had been armed with an AK-47 assault-type rifle, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee told reporters, and the weapon had been legally purchased in Nevada three weeks earlier.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump imparted condolences for the victims and their families. “We express our deepest sadness and sorrow for the families who lost a precious loved one in the horrific shooting last night in Gilroy, California,” he said.
“We grieve for the families, and we ask that God will comfort them with his overflowing mercy and grace,” Trump said, going on to thank law enforcement officers “who swiftly killed the shooter”.
The Gilroy shooting was one of at least 249 mass shootings that have taken place across the US so far in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive’s database.
Including victims of the deadly shooting in Gilroy, the Archive recorded at least 20 mass shooting-related deaths around the US in July alone.
Yet Andrew Patrick of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) argued that while mass shootings attract the lion’s share of attention, the debate over gun violence should not overlook domestic violence and suicides.
“The mass shootings bring a lot of media attention, but we're also seeing mass shootings that don't even get covered anymore,” he told TRT World.
The Gun Violence Archive has documented 32,021 instances of gun violence of all types so far in 2019. Altogether, those incidents have resulted in at least 8,468 deaths.
Gun control in the 2020 elections
As presidential hopefuls gear up for the 2020 elections, Democratic candidates have sought to gain wider support for gun control measures.
Robert Spitzer, the author of five books on gun control, explained that Trump has embraced the gun lobby in order to solidify support among conservatives.
“He's really been dancing to their tune by and large since his administration began,” he told TRT World.
Among Democrats, however, most of the 2020 presidential candidates support stricter measures surrounding the ability to purchase and own guns.
During the first Democratic debate of the campaign season, candidate Pete Buttigieg proposed universal background checks for people seeking to purchase guns, as well as banning guns at schools.
“We lose as many as were lost at Parkland every two or three years in my city alone,” said Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Kamala Harris, a US Senator from California, hopes to see Congress pass comprehensive gun reform measures during her first 100 days in office, if elected.
If Congress fails to do so, she promised to ban the importing of assault weapons and instruct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to crack down on gun dealers that do not follow the law.
Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden, the former vice president in Barack Obama’s administration, supports introducing a government programme to buy back guns, although he has avoided harsh criticism of gun lobby groups, such as the National Rifle Association.
Gun control expert Robert Spitzer said stricter measures are becoming increasingly popular among the US electorate.
“There’s a lot of support for the basic gun measures that the candidates have been talking about,” he said.
“The degree of support for gun reform has fluctuated in the last 15 years, especially during the Bush era,” Spitzer added, referring to the presidency of George W Bush between 2001 and 2009.
“But historically, there is widespread support for stronger gun laws.”