A Sheriff in Jacksonville, Florida, laid out the arguments against gun control in the wake of a fatal shooting in the city. Sheriff TK Waters told reporters that the problem is not the gun, the problem is the person holding the gun. He pointed out that in the wake of gun-related fatalities, the press and politicians usually focus on gun control but said, “If I take my gun off right now and lay it on this counter, nothing will happen.” He added that the problem only begins when a “wicked” person grabs hold of the weapon and begins shooting.
The deadly incident occurred on August 26 when 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter used firearms to murder Angela Michelle Carr, Anolt Laguerre, and Jerrald Gallion at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville. Sheriff Waters said there is “no doubt” that the killings were racially motivated, and Palmeter had a history of neo-Nazi beliefs. “He hated Blacks, and I think he hated just about everyone that wasn’t White. He made that very clear,” the Sheriff said.
Palmeter shot himself after murdering the three victims. Sheriff Waters described the weapons used as a Glock and an AR-15-style rifle with images of swastikas painted on it. The shooter initially attended the historically black college Edward Waters University before the killings, and this is believed to have been his initial target. However, he seemingly had a change of heart, donned a mask and a bulletproof vest, and headed toward the dollar store.
Sherri Onks, special agent in charge of the Jacksonville FBI office, said her department treated the killings as a federal hate crime and opened a civil rights investigation. “Hate crimes are always and will always remain a top priority for the FBI,” she said. President Biden and US Attorney General Merrick Garland were briefed about the incident.
The Gun Violence Archive reports that there have been 469 mass shootings in the United States in 2023.