Grieving father wants to join forces against gun violence

  Richard Martinez, a grieving father whose only child was killed in the Santa Barbara, Calif. College rampage doesn’t want to hear from President Barack…

Richard Martinez who says his son Christopher Michael-Martinez was killed in Friday night’s mass shooting that took place in Isla Vista, Calif., breaks down as he talks to media outside the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Headquarters on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Santa Barbara, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Richard Martinez, a grieving father whose only child was killed in the Santa Barbara, Calif. College rampage doesn’t want to hear from President Barack Obama or any of the politicians who have been calling him.

Martinez, a former Army cop who is now a criminal defense lawyer in California, wants only to talk to the father of the troubled young man who caused the carnage.

“I’ve been told that the shooter’s father has said he wanted to devote his life to making sure that doesn’t happen again. I share that with him,” the grieving Martinez told reporters in the aftermath of the weekend tragedy.

“He’s a father. I’m a father. He loved his son. I love my son. His son died. My son died.”

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Martinez, 60, made those comments on Saturday the morning after the massacre when he interrupted a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office news conference to voice his concern about the latest of mass shootings that have terrorized the nation.

Richard Martinez says he wants to enlist Hollywood director Peter Rodger in a joint crusade to change gun laws in hopes of preventing another mass shooting like the one in Santa Barbara that have destroyed countless families in America.

Rodger’s 22-year-old son Elliott killed six people before shooting himself Friday night.

Among his victims was Christopher Michaels-Martinez, 20, an English major at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and planned to go to London next year and to law school after graduation.

“As bad as I feel about this, at least people come up to me and say, ‘I’m so sorry for you,’?” Martinez said. “Who will say that to them (the Rodger family)? No one is going to say that to them.”

State Senators in California observe a moment of silence after the Santa Barbara College rampage.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who represents the community of Isla Vista where six young people were killed on Friday, May 23, leads senators in a moment of silence in their memory, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Lawmakers say the state Legislature needs to do more to deter the type of violence carried out by 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and injured 13 others in the shooting and stabbing attacks Friday night in the Isla Vista community near campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Christopher Michaels-Martinez was the last of six victims allegedly killed by Elliot Rodger before the suspected shooter took his own life. Michaels-Martinez was getting a sandwich at a deli when he was shot.

“We are tough people,” Martinez said.,

He and his son’s mother, Caryn Johnson Michaels, a deputy district attorney in San Luis Obispo, separated when Christopher was young.

“I talked to him about 45 minutes before he died,” Martinez told reporters of his son. “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,” his father said. “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’ right to live? When will this insanity stop?

“When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness.’ We do not have to live like this. Too many people have died. We should say to ourselves, ‘not one more.’”

Neither Rodger, an assistant director on the blockbuster film “The Hunger Games,” nor his attorney responded to a request for comment.

But Martinez said he is intent on recruiting him for what he knows will be an uphill battle against the powerful gun lobby and its politicians to change gun laws in the country.

“Have we learned nothing? These things are going to continue until somebody does something,” Martinez said Monday in an interview with CNN. “So where the hell is the leadership? Where the hell are these people we elect to congress that we spend so much money on?

“These people are getting rich sitting in Congress, and what do they do? They don’t take care of our kids. My kid died because nobody responded to what happened at Sandy Hook

Martinez said he wasn’t angry at the killer’s family nor the mental health system or the law enforcement officials, who in April visited Elliot Rodger’s apartment after his family became concerned about dark, brooding videos he had posted on social media.

What angers him, Martinez said, is the public’s willingness to accept mass murder as a way of life in the country and the National Rifle Association for always defending the group’s position on automatic and semiautomatic weapons after every mass murder incident involving firearms.

Elliot Rodger, had three semi-automatic handguns he used in the shooting.

“I’m angry with the leadership of the NRA who always want to characterize this as if it’s a lone madman,” he says. “That it’s an act of nature we have to tolerate. I am angered by how they have worked to normalize this.

“I understand this is a complicated problem. I have friends who are in the NRA. I grew up on a farm. I hunted. I killed animals. I understand guns.

“But assault rifles and semiautomatic weapons? There is no need for those except in war.”

Martinez told CNN it is time for the families of victims to take over the crusade to change the country’s gun laws from the politicians.

“It is outrageous. It’s outrageous that no mater how many people die from gun violence everyday in this country, that our politicians are too cowardly to stand up and fight against a lobby that is really not nearly as powerful as we are led to believe,” he said.

“And the most heartbreaking thing of all is that after we are finished lamenting this latest shooting, and after our memories start to fade, we will all go back to our lives as if it never happened until the nextterrible massacre occurs, and you know it will, which angers us enough to yet again speak out and demand that something be done to stop the violence.”

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