HIGHLAND PARK (Illinois): Law enforcement personnel work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade.—AFP
HIGHLAND PARK (Illinois): Law enforcement personnel work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parade.—AFP

WASHINGTON: Police in the Chicago suburb of Highland confirmed on Tuesday that they have arrested Robert Bobby E. Crimo III, the only suspect in the Fourth of July mass shooting that left six people dead and more than 30 injured.

Crimo, 22, is a music enthusiast who seems to have a history of violent tendencies and mental issues and yet he was able to buy several high-powered guns, legally.

On June 25, US President Joe Biden signed into law his country’s first gun-control bill in decades that seeks to prevent people with criminal records and mental problems from acquiring firearms.

The law requires tougher background checks for buyers younger than 21 and provides $15bn for mental health programmes and school security upgrades to prevent mass and school shootings.

While police and peace activists argue that the law is not strong enough to discourage gun violence, conservative Republican lawmakers have vowed to reverse it if they get a majority in November’s midterm elections. Most political pundits say they will.

Christopher Covelli, the deputy police chief of the county where Monday’s shooting happened, told journalists that the suspect legally purchased multiple weapons. Besides the rifle used in the shooting, police found another rifle in the suspect’s vehicle after apprehending him. “The weapons were legally purchased from separate locations,” Covelli said.

Police captured Crimo near Lake Forest, Illinois, after he led them on a brief chase when a North Chicago police officer attempted a traffic stop.

Crimo does not fit the profile of a typical shooter — a disturbed individual from a poor, crime-infested neighborhood, and a broken family. He grew up in Highland Park, which is an affluent neighborhood and lived with his family.

Crimo’s Instagram account depicts him as an amateur rapper who posted disturbing videos on his YouTube channel, including a crude animation depicting a gunman being killed by police.

In addition to videos filled with violent imagery and mass-shooting fantasy, Crimo last year posted a video on his personal blog of Central Avenue in Highland Park — the main street of the parade route. He is also a video-game enthusiast and professional wrestling fan.

The parade shooting once again started a debate over the need to have stricter gun control laws as media outlets pointed out that besides the six killed at the parade, six others were also killed in and around Chicago during the Fourth of July weekend. Some reports included statistics of recent and old mass shootings across America.

According to these statistics, 1.5 million have been killed in gun violence in America between 1968 and 2017 — that’s higher than the number of soldiers killed in every US conflict since the American War for Independence in 1775.

In 2020 alone, more than 45,000 people were killed, whether by homicide or suicide, more than any other year on record. In 2021, guns killed 20,726 people, excluding suicides.

Two months ago, 19 children and two adults were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. That was 27th school shooting in 2022 so far. Since 2018, there have been at least 119 school shootings.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2022

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