Well, this is going to blow up the narrative advanced by politicians like Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg that more gun control laws would have prevented last weekend’s shooting that left six people dead and a dozen injured.
A second suspect has been arrested in connection with a shooting that killed six people in a popular nightlife area in Sacramento, California, Sunday.
Smiley Martin, 27, was taken into custody Tuesday, Sacramento police said in a statement.
Martin has been receiving medical treatment for “serious injuries” from gunfire and is under police supervision in a hospital, police said. He will be booked once his care is complete and is being charged with possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a machine gun.
Smiley Martin’s brother, Dandrae Martin, 26, was identified as a “related suspect” in the shooting, which broke out on K Street in downtown Sacramento early Sunday morning just after a fight took place, the Sacramento Police Department said. Martin was arrested on assault and illegal firearm possession charges on Monday, police said.
So Smiley Martin was prohibited from possessing any firearm under both state and federal law, but according to police he was in possession of a fully automatic firearm. Police on Tuesday reported that the firearm in question was a stolen handgun that had been illegally modified to shoot full auto.
A stolen firearm used in the mass shooting in Sacramento on Sunday was converted to be used as a fully automatic weapon, police said.
Authorities did not offer more details about the weapon. But it is possible to convert a handgun into a automatic weapon that can fire like a machine gun.
There had been suspicion that an automatic weapon was used in the shooting because video of the incident recorded rapid fire. When the gunfire was over, 18 people had been wounded, six fatally.
Officials estimate at least 100 shots were fired.
Investigators have obtained a social media post made on Saturday by one suspect, Smiley Martin, in which he wields the stolen gun, according to law enforcement sources.
As my colleague Tom Knighton recently wrote, while auto sears are prohibited under U.S. law, that’s not stopping Chinese firms from shipping them into the United States. They can also be built using 3D printers, which means it’s virtually impossible to stop a dedicated person from getting their hands on one, as long as they’re willing to break federal law.
The problem with this debate, however, is that these things are out there and they put the law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage. The laws banning such things were meant to keep criminals from getting full-auto weapons, yet now they’re just about the only ones who can get them.
It’s ridiculous, really, but that’s kind of how gun control works. It’s also why so many of us vehemently oppose it.
Auto sears aren’t new. In fact, they’ve been designated as machine guns by the ATF since 1981, and as such all pre-1986 auto sears must be registered under the National Firearms Act (those built after 1986 are barred entirely from being registered and legally owned). But as VICE News and the Michael Bloomberg-funded anti-gun website The Trace recently noted, technological advancements have made the devices much easier to make, either at home or overseas.
In 2019, the ATF opened an investigation into a Michigan resident who ordered auto sears through the mail. Agents say the man, a convicted felon on probation for selling machine guns, openly bragged about selling switches in a music video and ordered more than 20 conversion devices from a company located in Shenzhen, China.
According to federal court documents, a separate investigation found that the company had sold auto sears to American customers 2,400 times over a 15-month period, for as cheap as $19.98 per device.
The U.S has become an increasingly lucrative market for auto sears. Many smugglers operate out of China, court records show, where conversion devices can be manufactured at low cost and shipped to American customers falsely labeled as innocuous items. In 2019, officials at Los Angeles International Airport intercepted more than 200 packages from China containing auto sears. The packages were labeled “multitool switch” or “screwdriver.”
So much for the idea that slapping another gun control law on the books will prevent crimes like this in the future. These items are already banned and illegal to use, but that doesn’t mean they’re not available for anyone with an internet connection and a few bucks to spare. Even in the most restrictive state in the nation when it comes to the Second Amendment, it’s clearly not difficult for convicted felons to turn a stolen gun into an illegal machine gun, and the only time that these gun control laws come into play is after the fact when prosecutors are considering what charges to bring.
I think the police chief in Fresno nailed it in his comments on Monday. California’s gun control laws simply aren’t stopping or even scaring violent criminals. It’s time for the Democrats in control of that state to quit with their utopian dreams and actually get tough on violent crime; not through new gun laws but through more prosecutors and public defenders to reduce the number of plea bargains handed out to violent felons, more resources for witness protection to help bring cases to trial, and yes, even adding more prison beds if needed in order to ensure that violent criminals face real consequences for their actions.