One of the most wrenching images from the mass shooting near the University of California-Santa Barbara was that of anguished father Richard Martinez, who told reporters Saturday that his 20-year-old son died because of “craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.”
Martinez is partially right. The NRA has bullied spineless lawmakers into opposing sensible changes in America’s gun laws, such as broader background checks, which the NRA itself once supported. After another deranged young male gunned down 20 first-graders and six educators in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, the Senate shamefully rejected every gun proposal before it, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
What part was Martinez right? Further what laws proposed were sensible? The man who killed his son passed several background checks, and was even known to police from last-minute family concerns. They police had no grounds to arrest or even search him, and despite his animosity he had never committed a serious crime. No, he wasn’t a model citizen, but you know who else aren’t model citizens? The MILLIONS of people in America who DON’T hurt anybody their entire life. The Sandy Hook shooter was too young to buy the guns he used, but that didn’t stop him from murdering his mother and stealing hers. As for magazine and “Assault weapons Bans”, California and Connecticut HAD those. What is sensible about making the REST of America more like those two states?
In important ways, though, Martinez’s formulation misses the point. Little or nothing in the post-Newtown proposals would have made any difference in stopping the 22-year-old madman, identified as Elliot Rodger, who stabbed three students to death and fatally shot three others.
Yeah, so why did you lead with that previous paragraph? You aren’t going to win hearts and minds by STARTING your piece with bullshit, only to declare that yes, it is bullshit.
What might have made a difference is something that’s typically an afterthought in the gun debate: giving authorities greater ability to deny mentally disturbed people access to firearms.
In Santa Barbara, there was a huge missed opportunity after the shooter’s parents saw their son’s disturbing videos on YouTube and alerted authorities. Sheriff’s deputies went to the young man’s apartment — which held his guns, his ammunition and a detailed plan for his killing spree — but he easily convinced them he was no threat to himself or others, the threshhold for taking action.
Again, in 20/20 hindsight this guy was insane. Still he had been in the care of various forms of mental health workers for most of his life, and yet never did any of them feel the need to alert police to any potential danger.
Anything that would have stopped this creep by NATURE would deprive rights HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of people who have not, nor will ever be violent. One can NEVER sacrifice that much freedom for the vague promise of safety.
Family members often know better than anyone when someone’s mental state is deteriorating, so their concerns deserve to be taken more seriously than a potential psychopath’s glib denials. In many but not all states, family members and others can ask a judge to have someone’s mental health evaluated. That doesn’t guarantee a person will be held and treated, says Doris Fuller, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, “but we’ve got to start somewhere.”
There is a valid point in that. Still I hesitate to accept it. First up, the family of the Santa Barbara killer didn’t take action until it was really too late, and much of their action might be argued to have made the killer WORSE. Second it isn’t like we haven’t been down this road before. It used to be VERY easy to get people committed, and even lock them up for life in prison-like mental hospitals without any crimes being committed by the committed. Society decided that was NOT the proper way to handle people with mental illness, and great reforms were made in the 70s and 80s. Possibly we went to far with the reforms, but I’m always concerned that people are very willing to return to what we have proven to be wrong in the past.
Treatment or no, someone in a deteriorating mental state should not have firearms. In a proposal backed by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, families could ask a judge for a “gun violence restraining order.” If a judge agreed the person presented a credible risk for violence, the person would be barred from buying guns and have any guns he owned taken away.
Define “deteriorating mental state”. I can make a VERY good argument that the people in CSGV are poster children to that state. I will say up front that Ladd Evereitt of CSGV is a deeply mentally ill man. I’m not a psychologist, so my evaluation ends there, but I will say, I don’t think he’s a PHYSICAL danger, dispute his nasty attacks he’s made on people who share a different view than him, and his documented stalking and boundary issues. I don’t think he’d hurt anybody if he had a gun, nor do I think he deserves to be committed against his will.
This really just seems to be magical thinking, and mashing a square agenda into a round hole. What do you all think?