When President Barack Obama pushed his gun control agenda as a reaction to the slaying of a Knoxville teen late last week, he carefully avoided getting deep into a conversation about a suspect arrested in connection with the case.
Authorities identified a suspect arrested in connection with the shooting investigation as Christopher Bassett. He is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, and violation of probation, according to WVLT in Knoxville.
The slain teen, Zaevion Dobson, reportedly threw himself on top of three girls to shield them from gunfire and was struck by one bullet in the head.
By no small coincidence, a case unfolding in Seattle has a similar circumstance. A man charged in connection with the April shooting death of a 1-year-old girl is also a convicted felon whose record includes being a “Felon in Possession of a Firearm (2015), Assault in the Third Degree (2012), Robbery in the First Degree (2010), Assault in the Fourth Degree (2009, 2008), and Assault in the Second Degree (2007),” according to court documents.
That man, DeMartrae “Marty” Leshaswn Kime, was behind bars on another, unrelated charge, when the new allegations were announced by prosecutors in King County. The court documents also noted that Kime “is pending sentencing in federal court for unlawfully possessing a firearm and was recently indicted in Oregon for Robbery in the First Degree.”
The president’s gun control agenda has, for a long time, included expansion of federal background checks to encompass all firearms transactions and transfers. However, critics have contended that none of the measures proposed by Obama or other gun control proponents would have prevented any of the recent high-profile mass shootings that ignited this new gun control crusade, and gun laws currently in place did not keep guns out of the hands of either Bassett or Kime.
It’s not clear if authorities believe Kime was the actual shooter in the death of toddler Malijha Grant, but they are confident enough he was in the car to charge him with second degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault.
Another common denominator in both stories is that authorities believe the shootings were gang-related. In the Kime case, they’re sure of it.
Gang members do not obtain firearms through legitimate channels. They don’t go through background checks. In Kime’s case, the handgun used to kill the toddler has not been recovered, but he was arrested in October 2014 by Seattle police, who found a .45-caliber pistol during a search. A check with Seattle police could not ascertain whether that handgun had been stolen, because it appeared it had never been reported stolen.
There is much more at issue than guns, but they are an easy target for political gamesmanship; far easier than going after gangs, or building more prisons to house criminals.
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