The madness of US gun policies

We have yet another mass shooting in which a young man killed eight people, six of them young Asian women at three different massage parlors in Georgia. He was apprehended that same day because his parents identified him from surveillance footage after the first shooting and told police that his vehicle had a tracking device and how they could track him down. He seemed to be on his way to Florida to commit more murders.

There are many questions about this tragedy that remain unanswered, not the least of which is his motive for the killings and the selection of targets.

Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds confirmed to CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” that although Long did not mention race in his taped confession, investigators cannot rule it out as a potential motivation.

“He [Long] does make a full confession, and during that interview I did not hear anything about race … other than us asking the question, although, we’re not going to rule that out,” Reynolds said during a Wednesday evening interview. “Obviously, we’re going to continue this investigation and go off of every lead and every possible angle that we can, but it’s still a little early to tell.”

Long told police that the shootings were motivated by what he claimed was a “sex addiction.”

“He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places, and it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” Cherokee County Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker previously told reporters.

But what struck me was the information that it looks as if he had bought the gun used in the murders on that same day.

When Robert Aaron Long walked into the Big Woods Goods gun shop on Tuesday, he walked out with a 9mm handgun—and just hours later, allegedly used it to kill 8 people at three massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. 

The 21-year-old was able to purchase his weapon the same day as the alleged crime, as police said Wednesday, because Georgia has no waiting period for purchasing a gun. The state also doesn’t require weapons sellers to do a background check for licensed gun owners; a state-issued photo ID is all that’s required. 

“Waiting periods” delay the time between a prospective gun buyer’s decision to purchase and the moment they receive their firearm from anywhere between three to 14 days. That time is meant to prevent potentially violent gun buyers from acting impulsively on rage and other often short-lived but intense emotions. 

While the Atlanta gunman’s motive isn’t known yet, experts say waiting periods save lives. Just a few days can reduce gun homicides by 17%, according to a 2017 study highlighted by the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Thanks to the NRA and other gun rights extremists, even the minimal and sensible requirement of a waiting period to allow angry people to cool off is seen as a horrendous infringement of people’s freedom. Even after events like this, expect them to fight tooth and nail to oppose such measures. We should not be surprised by this in a country that has people seeing even the requiring the wearing of masks during a global pandemic as government overreach.

According to Jay Baker, a Cherokee county sheriff’s captain, the suspect “said the parlors were a “temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate”, indicating a clash with his strong Christian faith.” Baker went on to say that the interrogators “got that impression that yes, he understood the gravity of it. He was pretty much fed up, and kind of at [the] end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did”

Trevor Noah says that we could see this coming and makes two important points, that the murderer’s alleged statement says that he was not driven by ant-Asian sentiment should not be taken at face value given the nature of his targets, and that it is unconscionable for Baker to try to humanize the murderer by saying that he was at the end of his rope and that he was “having a really bad day”. He had a bad day? What about his victims? The police would never say such a thing if the murderer had been black.


  1. says

    I like the UK being more or less gun-free.

    But if some states can pass laws obliging surgeons to attempt reimplantation of an ectopic pregnancy, you ought to be able to get a law passed requiring guns to have “undo” buttons.

  2. jrkrideau says

    I know a couple of people in Canada who legally own handguns. IIRC, it only took them a few months and a police background check (or two or three?) to be authorized to buy one. There are very strict transport and storage laws.

    Anyone carrying one in public would be assumed to be “nuts” and almost certainly would meet a SWAT team.

  3. lanir says

    A religious extremist targets small businesses for terrorist attacks and murders 8 people.

    Mass murderer protests accusations of racism, claims most of his victims were only accidentally Asian.

    Man objectifies and murders numerous women, male police captain pleads for understanding, says shooter was “having a bad day.”

    Man decides killing women and bystanders is better than being attracted to them because his faith tells him the latter is wrong.

    There’s a lot to unwrap with this.

    As far as I can tell those are all correct but use different framing. News outlets, politicians and police are all using various framing devices and some are more obvious than others. The confessed murderer is also slanting things by implying the women working in the spas were sex workers when he blames “sex addiction” for his murder spree. And the authorities claim the man was arrested without a struggle but only after they ran him off the road. So there’s a whole lot of framing going on here.

    It can be useful though. If you want your Fox news watching relatives to feel some sympathy for the victims you can use the first bit of framing above. But they’ll probably hear about it from Fox first with a different framing, probably either one slanted to make them fear criminals and immigrants or one that tries to humanize any mental problems the shooter had while minimizing the murder spree and outright ignoring the victims. So trying to combat Fox and artificially provide a relative like that with the benefits of critical thinking can feel like trying to climb out of a pit of sand. No matter how hard you work you just slide back in.

  4. John Morales says

    I was thinking the USA had gone a while without a mass shooting.

    Things must be getting back to normal.


    Georgia requires no waiting period between the purchase of a firearm and its transfer to the buyer. Unlike those in states with stricter gun regulations, lawmakers in Georgia trust that people who buy deadly weapons are responsible enough to decide to buy a gun and receive that gun on the very same day.

    They do not have the same confidence in pregnant women. In Georgia, abortion-seeking patients are required to undergo counseling that, according to the Guttmacher Institute, “includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion.” Then they must wait 24 hours before they can receive the procedure.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    @John Morales, 5:

    I was thinking the USA had gone a while without a mass shooting

    I think you meant to say “newsworthy mass shooting”

    When the Atlanta spa shootings happened the USA had gone almost 24 hours since a mass shooting. The day before that there was one in Florida and two in Illinois. The day before that, there were FOUR, with a total of seven dead between them, across four states. You in fact have to go back to March 9th to find a day in the US when there WASN’T a mass shooting, and there were two whole days in a row on the 1st and 2nd without one. Then again, there were five on February 28th, so the average was up.

    Ninety five people had died in mass shootings in the USA in 2021 before the Atlanta spa shootings. Four other people died the same day in a mass shooting in Phoenix, for a total of 99, NOT counting the 8 in Atlanta.

    It may be worth considering why nobody seemed to consider any of those mass shootings worth of remark. In any civilised country any one of them would have been headline news, but I’ll be prepared to bet folding money that the most woke, news-attentive person reading this thread cannot give even the most basic facts about any of them without looking them up. Can’t tell me which city or even state any of them happened in, can’t tell me the gender or ethnicity of the victims, can’t tell me what’s the current status of the shooter. Mass shootings are “dog bites man” in the USA. This one’s only made the news because sexy Asian ladies died. (Note: this is a sarcastic and condemnatory comment on the priorities of news editors, not an endorsement of those priorities. It’s fucked up, but it’s a fact that that’s why this is getting coverage.

  6. DrVanNostrand says

    My first thought when I read this was “What about the Brady Bill?”. It was a big deal in the 80s and 90s and a major target of the NRA and other gun nuts. I had to look it up, but apparently, the nuts were able to remove the (federal) waiting period in 1998 by passing a law that created a database to conduct federal background checks in minutes. Thus red states don’t have waiting periods any more. Crazy.

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