Good morning, Bulletin readers. Flags flew at half-staff again yesterday, as details emerged about another horrific mass shooting, this time at a California country music bar. It was the second mass shooting with more than 10 fatalities in less than two weeks. We’ve compiled the latest details, along with other important headlines, below.
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MASS SHOOTING IN THOUSAND OAKS
The gunman, Ian Long, was a 28-year-old ex-Marine who’d been on active duty from August 2008 to March 2013. Police had responded to a disturbance at Long’s home earlier this year, but he did not qualify for an emergency psychiatric hold. (California law triggers a five-year gun ban after someone is held for involuntary psychiatric observation for 72 hours.) One of Long’s neighbors from a nearby town told ABC 7 that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, adding, “I don’t know what he was doing with a gun.” It is not yet known if law enforcement considered invoking California’s red flag law, which can be used to disarm legal gun owners who pose a clear threat.
Police arrived at the Borderline bar two-and-a-half minutes after the shooting began. One of the responding deputies was fatally shot, police say. Fifteen minutes later, the second group of law enforcement personnel arrived and the country and western venue and found the suspect dead in an office room with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
There were six off-duty police officers inside at the time of the shooting. A woman who was at the bar said the officers stood in front of her daughter to protect her.
A young congresswoman-elect had plans to celebrate her victory at the bar where the shooting took place. Katie Hill, 31, won a long-shot race to represent California 25th District, which had not elected a Democrat since 1992. She wrote on Twitter that she had been planning to have drinks at Borderline Bar and Grill on Thursday. Her stepsister’s roommate had escaped through a window. “This community is my community,” she wrote. “This is far too close to home.”
New from The Trace: Gun rights groups blocked enforcement of California’s total ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines. The shooter was a legal gun owner, but sales of the kind of extended magazines reportedly used in the attack have been barred since 2000. A ballot initiative passed in 2016 also outlawed high-capacity magazines already in circulation. But local gun rights advocates and the National Rifle Association brought suit, and a judge issued an injunction against the total ban two days before it was supposed to go into effect. Brian Freskos has a primer on the case. From the archives: A 2017 study showed that in multiple cities, high-capacity magazines were disproportionately found on guns tied to violent crimes.
The NRA has pushed for a bill that would make it easier for veterans with mental health issues to own guns. The measure would require a court hearing and a judge’s ruling in order to add a veteran to a federal database of those deemed mentally incompetent. Under current law, any veteran who has been assigned fiduciaries because of mental incompetency can be barred from gun ownership. Critics of the legislation note that veterans suffer from elevated suicide rates, and records show that veterans barred from guns include tens of thousands with schizophrenia, PTSD, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.
Most active shooters use pistols, not rifles. Though mass shootings often elicit opposition to assault-style rifles, the majority of active shooters — including the Thousand Oaks gunman — use pistols to carry out such attacks.
The United States is a particularly dangerous place for teens. An analysis from Johns Hopkins Medicine this year found that 15- to 19-year-old Americans are 82 times more likely to die of a gun homicide than young people in other wealthy nations.
THE LIVES LOST
As stories of the victims emerge, family and friends are giving us all a sense of the voids they will leave behind. The victims include a college freshman, a recent grad, an aspiring soldier, a fledgling coffee entrepreneur, a Little League umpire, and a Navy veteran who survived the Las Vegas massacre, only to be killed in this latest gun rampage. Here are glimpses at several of them.
Sergeant Ron Helus was a 29-year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office who was planning to retire next year. Helus owned a gun safety company and taught firearms safety courses to concealed-carry permit applicants, law enforcement officials say. Helus was honored with a procession on Thursday morning along the 101 Freeway, where residents gathered and two lines of uniformed deputies raised a salute.
Cody Coffman, 22, had been looking forward to the birth of his sister and was planning to enlist in the Army, his father said. He volunteered as an umpire for a youth baseball league. “This is a heart I will never get back,” his father told reporters on Thursday.
Justin Meek, 23, had recently graduated from California Lutheran University. In a statement, the university president said that Meek had died “heroically” and had saved lives during the shooting. Students and community members flooded the university chapel on Thursday morning to remember him and other victims.
Alaina Housley, 18, had been at the bar with several friends on Wednesday night when she was killed. Her aunt, “Sister, Sister” actress Tamera Mowry-Housley, described her as “an incredible young woman with so much life ahead of her.”
Noel Sparks, 21, was a student at Moorpark College who enjoyed horseback riding and was a member of the United Methodist Church Westlake Village. “She was always so joyful to help others and fill needs,” her friend wrote in a Facebook post.
Sean Adler, 48, had recently retired as the wrestling coach at a local high school to open his “dream business,” a coffeeshop called Rivalry Roasters. He still made time to work with students, the team wrote on Facebook, and did shifts as a bouncer at Borderline to make extra income as his coffeeshop got off the ground. “He was positive, motivational, and truly wanted the best for the people around him,” the post read.