California Race-Motivated Mass Shooting Averted

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

It wasn’t California’s gun laws that stopped a man suspected of plotting a mass shooting targeting racial and ethnic minorities. It turns out it was a simple phone call to police about a suspicious character that led to an arrest before any shots could be fired.

A California man was arrested after law enforcement discovered an arsenal of ammunition and racist writings detailing that he wanted to wipe out Black, Hispanic and Jewish communities, officials said on Thursday.

According to a Thursday press release, Wesley Charles Martines, 32, was apprehended by police in Campbell, Calif., on July 9, following a tip from a local business owner that someone was loitering and looking into vehicles and a storage shed in the area.

Officers reportedly found a handgun, bullets with phrases including “Cop Killer,” “A Good Start” and “To a widow from the Grim Reaper” engraved in them, assault rifles, body armor and an inactive pipe bomb inside of Martines’s car during the time of his arrest.

They also uncovered a journal that included the racist writings and Martines’s alleged plan to “go to sporting goods store, dress up as an employee and tie everybody up.”

Martines reportedly told police that there was no ill-intent and that he wasn’t planning anything, though I can see why police are skeptical. He’s been charged with drug possession, possession of a suppressor, possession of an assault weapon, and for possessing the components to build a pipe bomb.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do believe California’s so-called assault weapon law is ridiculous and needs to be killed by the courts as soon as humanly possible. I also think you should be able to buy a suppressor at a curb store. But the law says otherwise and Martines violated those laws. He also had drugs on his person which is a different matter entirely.

And to think, it all started with someone seeing suspicious activity and making a phone call.

The thing is, a lot of mass shootings are stopped that way. We’ve seen a number of potential shootings that were thwarted when someone noticed something and called the police.

After all, mass shootings rarely happen on the spur of the moment. Some do, but most don’t. They have at least some degree of planning and, well, these guys usually aren’t smart enough to know how to hide that planning from people. That means people generally have a chance of seeing something and alerting the police.

We don’t need new gun control laws or red flag measures. What we need is people being aware of what to look for and then not being afraid to call the police to check the situation out. If it’s nothing, it’s nothing.

The trick, though, is not going so far to an extreme that there mere hint that someone who is armed is treated that way. That would be bad for so many people if we got to that point.

I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, though. More importantly, I think there also needs to be penalties for anyone falsely reporting a potential mass shooting simply because someone is lawfully carrying a firearm. That’ll put a stop to anything like that. Assuming it gets to a point like that, anyway.

Either way, it looks like California dodged a bullet (no pun intended) on this one.