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.