A sheriff in Florida went on a rant against gun control while announcing the arrests of a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old in connection with a shooting that left three dead.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said the two suspects were charged with murder, and a third suspect, a 16-year-old remains at large.
Addressing a press conference, Mr Woods said: “There are individuals out there viewing, and includes some of you media, that want to blame the one thing that has no ability or the capacity to commit the crime itself, and that’s the gun. These individuals committed the crime.
“All the gun laws we got in place didn’t prevent it, did it? Neither will any new ones. Because here’s the fact: The bad guy is going to get a gun no matter what law you put in place.
“These juveniles shouldn’t even possess a handgun but they did.”
On 30 March, Layla Silvernail, 16, was found injured on the side of a road with a gunshot wound. She later died.
The next day authorities discovered the body of 17-year-old boy with the same injury, lying on a road a few miles from the first incident.
The third victim, another 16-year-old girl, was found dead on Saturday inside Layla’s vehicle, which was partly submerged in a body of water.
Mr Woods said the victims and suspects all knew each other and were involved in committed robberies and burglaries. They also had affiliations to gangs.
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Later in the conference Mr Woods took aim at the education system, saying the country needs to “stop minimising the actions of students” and hold them accountable.
Debates concerning gun control have become more prominent since the mass shooting at a Nashville Christian school that killed six people – including three nine-year-old children.
In response to the shooting, hundreds of demonstrators packed the Tennessee Capitol calling for the Republican-led State to pass gun control measures. Two Democrats were also expelled from the House in Nashville after protesting against gun violence.
Guns became the leading cause of death among children and teenagers in 2020, killing more people aged one to 19 in the US than car crashes, drug overdoses or cancer, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“In the last 40 years, and almost certainly before that, this is the first time that firearm injuries have surpassed motor vehicle crashes among kids,” said a co-author Jason Goldstick, a research associate professor at the University of Michigan.