26 Jun 2014

‘Not one more’ – bereaved father calls for US gun law change

The legal profession and media must take a stand together against the American gun lobby, the father of a student shot dead by mass murderer Elliot Rodger says.

Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was killed, tells Channel 4 News he feels perpetrators of gun massacres should not be given the oxygen of publicity.

He is a criminal lawyer, who’s dealt with the outcomes of violence his whole professional life. But, a month ago, he tragically became more personally entangled in America’s cataclysmic relationship with guns.

His 20-year-old son studied English at the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California. He was looking forward to a year’s study on an English literature programme at Queen Mary, University of London, beginning this September.

But, on Friday 23 May, Chris was standing inside a convenience store on campus when he was fatally shot by 22-year-old Elliot Roger. Roger killed five others at Isla Vista that day, before killing himself.

‘When will this insanity stop?’ Richard Martinez

In the interview, Richard Martinez says he owned a gun himself as a youth, but rails against the idea that civilians need to own many guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Public rage

Rather than asking for privacy as he and his family mourned the loss of their only child, Richard Martinez engaged in the most public kind of grief.

At press conferences, speaking to whoever would listen, he raged tearfully against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the politicians, who he blamed for enabling his son’s death.

During the emotional speech immediately after his son was killed, Richard Martinez asked: “When will this insanity stop?”

He said: “My son’s name was Christopher Ross Martinez, he was 20 years old and he died last night.

“Our family has a message for every parent out there: you don’t think it’ll happen to your child until it does.

“Chris was a really great kid, ask anyone who knew him. His death has left our family lost and broken. Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.

“They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say stop this madness? We don’t have to live like this.

“Too many have died. We should say to ourselves: ‘Not one more’.”

And that slogan ‘Not One More’, has become a sound bite to galvanise American opposition to the gun lobby, and the political system that has failed to curb gun violence, despite mass killing after mass killing.

The activist group Everytown for Gun Safety says that, since the shooting of 20 children and six adults at Newtown in Connecticut at the end of 2012, there’s been on average a shooting a week in places of learning across America.