Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams
On the heels of Maine officials confirming that the shooter who killed 18 people in Lewiston earlier this week was found dead, shootings in Florida, Illinois, and Indianapolis early Sunday fueled further calls for action by U.S. lawmakers to reduce gun violence.
Around midnight, one person was killed and at least nine others were wounded at a Halloween party in Indianapolis, Indiana, local police said. The victims are ages 16-22 and it’s not yet known who or how many people were shooting.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that police said a suspected gunman is in custody after 15 people ages 26-53 were wounded near 1:00 am CT during a Halloween party in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Illinois’ largest city.
Just before 3:00 am ET, “a fight between two groups turned deadly in Florida when a shooting in a Tampa street during Halloween festivities resulted in two deaths and 18 people hospitalized,” according to The Associated Press.
As the AP detailed:
Police have not released the names of those killed, but Emmitt Wilson said his 14-year-old son, Elijah, was one of the fatalities. Wilson came to the scene Sunday after getting a call that his son was a victim.
“It’s madness to me. I don’t even feel like I’m here right now,” Wilson said. “I hope the investigators do their job and find out who killed my son.”
The Tampa Bay Times noted that “police said they have detained at least one person who surrendered into custody” and some injuries “might have been a result of the stampeding crowd and not necessarily gunshots.”
Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement: “This morning, we are waking up to news of another deadly shooting. Our communities are exhausted… My heart breaks for the victims’ families whose children did not make it home, for the people who were injured in the gunfire, and hundreds of others who ran for their lives in Ybor City last night.”
“Guns turned this night out into a nightmare,” she added. “How many more times do we have to wipe the blood off our streets before action is taken? Once again, we urge Congress to do their jobs and pass responsible gun laws to protect all Americans from gun violence.”
Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts called the incident “the logical outcome of Florida’s permitless carry law, which went into effect in July” and means that “civilians no longer have to have background checks or training to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public.”
Kris Brown, president of the gun violence prevention group Brady, declared in response to the violence in Tampa that “this isn’t normal and we don’t have to live this way,” highlighting that the U.S. gun homicide rate is 26 times that of peer nations.
Since the massacre in Maine Wednesday night, the Illinois chapter of Moms Demand Action has also stressed in multiple social media posts that “we don’t have to live like this.”
After the mass shooting on Chicago’s West Side early Sunday, the advocacy group said that “our thoughts are with all of those impacted by yet another senseless act of gun violence.”
Moms Demand Action is among the organizations, gun violence survivors, and others who have urged Congress to reinstate the federal assault weapons ban that was in effect 1994-2004.
“By design, assault weapons kill as many people as quickly as possible,” Everytown for Gun Safety said Sunday. “They don’t belong in our communities. Congress enacted a lifesaving federal assault weapons ban before and they can do it again.”
While U.S. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) this week endorsed an assault weapons ban and sought forgiveness for his past opposition to the policy following the shootings in his hometown of Lewiston, any gun violence prevention legislation is unlikely to pass either chamber of Congress during this session.
Just hours before the violence in Lewiston, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives elected Louisiana Congressman Mike Johnson as speaker. The next day, in his first post-election interview, Johnson toldFox News‘ Sean Hannity that “the problem is the human heart. It’s not guns. It’s not the weapons.”
“At the end of the day, we have to protect the right of the citizens to protect themselves and that’s the Second Amendment, and that’s why our party stands so strongly for that,” the GOP leader continued, as the manhunt for the shooter was underway. “This is not the time to be talking legislation.”
Responding Friday on social media, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said: “America is not the only nation where evil exists. But we are the only nation on Earth that has more mass shootings than days on a calendar. It’s the guns.”