It is just that easy

From the Washington Post:

And Holmes left a bizarre impression with Glenn Rotkovich, owner of a gun range called Lead Valley in Byers, Colo. Rotkovich said Sunday that he had received an e-mail from Holmes on June 25 asking for an application to join the shooting range.

He said he followed up with Holmes within a day or two, calling to inform him when to come to the range for orientation.

“I called him and I did not get him,” Rotkovich said. “I got his answering machine. It was a very bass, very deep-sounding, guttural voice that once you heard it, you realize it was not an accident. Somebody was trying to make it sound that way. It was an intentional act . . . bizarre or freakish. I could not make out certain words.”

Rotkovich called a couple more times in the following days and heard the same message.

“By the time I called the third time, my attitude is one that I don’t like this,” Rotkovich said. “So I told everybody, if James Holmes shows up, he’s doing nothing before I saw him. Is he weird? Is there something strange about this dude? I flagged it that he had to see me before he gets to do anything.”

It won’t always be this easy. A lot of mental illness can be well hidden away. But doing a basic screening before selling people guns and munitions might have caught this guy, or the VT shooter as well.

Indeed, it seems to me that failure to do even a basic screening represents some sort of reckless disregard for public safety. I know there have been various efforts to sue gun manufacturers, but does anyone know of the history of civil suits by victims of gun violence against gun vendors? If I can sue a bartender for letting a drunk get behind the wheel of a car, why can’t I sue a gun vendor for selling a weapon to a guy showing symptoms of severed mental derangement?






85 replies
  1. 1
    MattF says:

    You might think– “He’s doing a bad impression of a homicidal maniac.” Trouble is, it’s real.

  2. 2
    Todd says:

    Still want to know why the mother called to find out if he was the perp.

  3. 3
    cathyx says:

    Did he have a mental illness? I know this question sounds kind of absurd, but I haven’t read or heard anything about him having it until now.

  4. 4
    Patricia Kayden says:

    The NRA is so powerful that politicians are terrified to mention gun control, even in light of this tragedy. Unfortunately, Holmes will not be the last mentally disturbed person to get access to guns and to use them.

  5. 5
    debbie says:

    @ MattF:

    I’d bet it wasn’t the first weird message he’d heard. Maybe the deep voice reminded him of those long-haired death-metal freakoids that so frighten flag-waving patriots.

  6. 6
    beltane says:

    I wish the right of citizens to vote was guarded as zealously as the right of lunatics and terrorists to own weapons. In many ways, this country has come to be a hellish bizzaroland.

  7. 7
    brantl says:

    @Patricia Kayden: We have a winner!

  8. 8
    gene108 says:

    But doing a basic screening before selling people guns and munitions might have caught this guy, or the VT shooter as well.

    So gun stores need to keep a psychiatrist on staff to evaluate people?

    I don’t want a gun store owner to be doing psych evaluations or deciding, who they think is unfit to own a gun because you can wind up with discrimination for “public safety”.

    In all honestly, enacting gun laws would be easier than trying to fix our messed up mental health care system and remove the social stigma around mental illness, so people feel more comfortable seeking treatment.

  9. 9
    Adolphus says:

    The response you are likely to get from the NRA and its minions is that a right to bear arms is in the constitution, but a right to drink alcohol is not.

  10. 10
    cathyx says:

    @Patricia Kayden: For many republicans I know, the gun issues is the key issue for why they are republicans. To them, democrats want to take away their pen*s’s, I mean guns.

  11. 11
    Lee says:

    The periodic multiple shooting/murder is the price we pay for our right to bear arms. The blood of innocents helps keeps us free.

  12. 12
    TS says:

    @cathyx: If he is a young white man shooting people – he had a mental illness.

    If he was a young black man shooting people, he had bad parents, was unemployed and lived on the government, also too he was a member of a gang

    If he was a young man of Muslim faith shooting people he was a terrorist.

    I find it hard to believe that someone who would do this is sane, but the insanity never seems to be discovered until after the massacre.

  13. 13
    El Cid says:

    ‘Tis a far better thing that hundreds are shot in public eruptions of mass killings over the years than a single person fantasizing of revenge upon Muslim terrorists be denied even a single bullet.

  14. 14
    beltane says:

    @Adolphus: And yet these same NRA minions are perfectly OK with the radical curtailment of 1st Amendment rights and freedoms, or at least when it comes to non-wingnuts exercising those freedoms.

  15. 15
    Strangepork says:

    An arguably interesting piece of info, but without the context of him having launched a full frontal assault on a movie theater full of people, I don’t think that leaving your answering machine message in a weird voice would constitute proof of mental illness.

  16. 16
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @cathyx:

    Holmes mentally ill?

    I haven’t seen anything definitive on the question but there’s been a good deal of assumption that he was struggling with at least depression and possibly schizophrenia.

  17. 17
    gene108 says:

    @Adolphus:

    The right to vote is protected for various groups by 4 Constitutional Amendments – 15th protects the right to vote regardless of race, the 19th by gender, 24th by non-payment of poll taxes and the 26th extends the right to vote to 18 year olds – but it doesn’t stop people from restricting people’s access to voting these days.

    Also, too, when someone says you need ID to cash a check, remind them that cashing a check isn’t an activity protected by 4 Constitutional Amendments.

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    @Todd: It’s my understanding that ABC news called her. Her answer seemed bizarre because she said you have the right person but ABC news never released the questions they asked her.

  19. 19
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @TS: #12

    If he is a young white man shooting people – he had a mental illness.

    You have a point.

  20. 20
    Randy P says:

    @gene108: So gun stores need to keep a psychiatrist on staff to evaluate people?

    No, they need to act as the guy in the story did, get suspicious when their radar goes off and check the guy out a little more carefully.

    Or have you not noticed the “if you see something, say something” campaigns that have been EVERYWHERE since 9/11? The point is that our instincts for “something wrong” are often correct, or at least worth notifying law enforcement.

    don’t want a gun store owner to be doing psych evaluations or deciding, who they think is unfit to own a gun
    How about if a flight school gets a call from a guy who wants to learn to fly a plane in the air, but doesn’t need to know how to take off or land. Is it OK with you if the instructor gets suspicious?

  21. 21

    Yeah you know I read this story over the weekend, that Holmes’ weird behavior set off red flags with the head of a gun club, so much so that he wouldn’t let him join. That’s how it was phrased. And that just pissed me off. The fucking GUN CLUB was able to say, nope, sorry dude you’re too strange for us. But the rest of the community? Tough noogies. SECOND AMENDMENT. FREEDOM. Arrgle bargle.

    I wish there had been some kind of resource, some place where this gun club guy could call and say, “hey there’s this weird dude who set off a bunch of red flags with me and he’s got guns, he needs to be checked out, maybe he shouldn’t be armed and dangerous.”

    Or you know, what about all of those UPS deliveries of ammo? I assume if it’s anything like my neighborhood, you get the same UPS delivery person. Didn’t that person think it was weird that Holmes was getting delivery after delivery from “Acme Bomb & Gun Supply” or whatever?

    It just seems like a lot of people knew that Holmes was a) going off the deep end and b) was armed to the teeth, and no one thought they could or should say anything to protect the community at large.

  22. 22
    JPL says:

    IMO, they should shut down internet sales of ammo and kevlar gear. When someone buys 6000 rounds of ammo online you would think that at least could be tracked.

  23. 23
    the Conster says:

    Didn’t Chris Rock once suggest making bullets $1000 each, or something? Let the gun nuts have their guns to fondle and play with, but ammo should be prohibitively expensive.

  24. 24
    NotMax says:

    If I can sue a bartender for letting a drunk get behind the wheel of a car, why can’t I sue a gun vendor for selling a weapon to a guy showing symptoms of severed mental derangement?

    Um, because a bartender has experience (or at the least employer direction to apply vigilance) in recognizing signs of alcohol impairment (and also, in many but not all cases, knows what consumption has already occurred), whereas a gun vendor has little to no experience or most likely no professional training in medical diagnosis, which in any case would be cursory and subjective¹ in a quick one-on-one transaction?

    ¹ Mental illness or mental disability (I purposely avoid using “derangement” – there were many who declared Gandhi deranged – it is not a medical term with any validity) is a map that encompasses a helluva lot of territory (and disagreement even among clinicians and diagnosticians) and is subject to vagaries which can be undisclosed in a casual buyer-seller relationship. Also, too, there are just people outside the widest part of the bell curve who would not necessarily fit a diagnosis of being mentally ill or impaired. Fast examples (of both situations):

    1) someone who has neglected to take or has an adverse reaction to medication that day or has been misprescribed medication

    2) someone who is fully functional but not socially adept

    3) the proverbial little old lady who shows up with 39 cats in tow. Is that sufficient cause?

    4) someone with a well-treated mental illness who, the next day, goes off treatment or medication

    5) someone with a physical or communications handicap who may strike a pedestrian onlooker as unusual or suspicious or “sick.”

    In short, the range of recognizable “illness” is very broad, can be intermittent and, insofar as being actionable, is subject to wide interpretation; the range of recognizable and actionable insobriety is much, much more not so.

  25. 25
    Lee says:

    On the less snarky snide, there was a reddit thread awhile back about a Swede who got a gun license.

    IIRC, the first step in the process was for him to be a member in good standing of a local gun club.

    The final step was a local cop stopped by the house and examined the gun safe to make sure it was up to standards and chat him up a bit.

  26. 26
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    I think we have an inherent bias to label any individual who slaughters other human beings without a financial motive as crazy. Dressing up like Bane and carrying out Joker execution scenarios at a Batman premiere could be called crazy — or it could be a cynical bastard who just doesn’t give a f*#k. That’s nihilist, not crazy. In fact nihilism would be quite consistent with how he’s been living his life until this point.

  27. 27
    Schlemizel says:

    we’re screwed, get used to it. There is no way in the current environment that we will ever have a sane discussion around guns in this country. Like religion (which the current gun culture actually is) normal people have been overwhelmed by a fragment of true believers & this illness will have to run its course before we can get back to reality. The time to have stopped this was 40 years ago but reasonable people never saw it coming because they were reasonable people.

    That means for now you can expect this sort of incident every year or two. Think of it like a natural disaster, an earthquake happens without warning & kills a few people then its gone. Thanks wingnuts!

  28. 28

    See, Gene & Max are making my point. The thing is, gun sellers, gun club directors and UPS drivers aren’t psychiatrists, they can’t and shouldn’t make a diagnosis. But anyone who has fears or suspicions like this guy did — who do you call? Where do you go? You can’t call the police because FREEDOM. CONSTITUTION. Holmes didn’t do anything illegal so the law couldn’t intervene. Pretty much until Holmes started firing at innocent moviegoers, there was nothing anyone could do.

    This is why we need sensible, sane gun laws and community resources so if you do think you have a Holmes or Dylan Klebold in your apartment building, there’s something you can actually do about it before tragedy strikes.

    But no. Second Amendment nuts won’t allow anything like that. God forbid you make someone who is just a “gun enthusiast” jump through an extra hoop or two to make sure the rest of us are safe.

    But vote without a picture ID? HORRORS. Because one person might have voted as a dead person one time somewhere (not here, but I heard about it on O’Reilly so, OMG), and that is a threat to the very foundation of the Republic!

    Fuckitall. This country is fucking insane.

  29. 29
    Cassidy says:

    @Southern Beale: See, that’s not exactly true. While this is not all encompassing, the police will go check out strange behavior.

    “Hey officer, I just delivered a large amount of ammo and body armor to (address) and the dude was acting really weird.”

    They may not be able to do anything, but knock on the door, but that at least puts him on someone’s radar.

    This doesn’t alleviate the need to get some sensible gun legislation to happen, but the idea that no one can be called is wrong.

  30. 30
    MattMinus says:

    Gotcha, so the answer is to subject people to the irrational prejudices of gun store owners. Why don’t we just give the police the ability to lock up anyone reported as a “weirdo”? They have the ability to peer into your soul, right?

    Do we really think that a strange voice mail message is a sign of “severe mental derangement”? We should also probably round up anyone who turfs out of a Ph.D program as well, because that’s a sure sign of insanity.

    I know, I know, won’t somebody please think of the children or something.

  31. 31

    It is not that easy. Diagnosing mental illness is quite hard. Often, even usually the dangerously ill don’t want to cooperate. The same for most healthy people.

    So, let’s say you put some kind of red flag system in place. The gun shop owner above gets to call a psych institution, it will somehow be paid for, and this person who does not want a mental illness evaluation is made to receive one. Do you know what happens next? I will tell you, because society has actually BEEN down this road. This system is used to persecute anyone who is considered weird or steps out of their social place. Abusive relatives use it to harass vulnerable members of their family (this still happens even with our lax system today). Just enough psychiatrists will be corrupt or incompetent – there’s no way around it – that more healthy people will have their lives ruined by being forced into psych care they don’t need than will ever die from events like this.

    We’ve been there in the 40s and 50s. And Victorian times. Look up the history of lobotomies some time. If you start forcing psych evaluations on anyone who shows symptoms the layman thinks are crazy, you will mostly be punishing nonconformity.

    Yes, our psych system is broken, but the fix you’ve suggested is a terrible one. I don’t think any reasonable fix would have caught this guy. First schizophrenic outbreaks are actually not that obvious. The only externally visible symptom is social withdrawal, and lots of people do that for much less scary reasons.

  32. 32
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    I know gun control is the more pressing issue, since it’s something that could actually be fixed by politicians doing their jobs, but I have a related question. Why are there so many human beings, myself included, who are loners? We live on a planet with 7 billion other human beings. You’d think the process of growing up would have properly “socialized us”. Instead, dealing with other people just gets on my nerves.

  33. 33
    John says:

    In college, I had access to the radio station’s recording gear and experienced sound engineers, so my roommate and I had some really cool answering machine messages. It was not uncommon for guttural, disturbing voices to announce that we were a little “occupied”.

    And twenty years later, neither of us have killed anyone. Although he did go into banking, so maybe there is something to the answering machine message psych test, after all.

  34. 34
    Laura says:

    Um, is there any proof of this guy being mentally ill besides the fact that he committed a massacre?

  35. 35
    John says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe: Check out literature about introversion. A large percentage of human population is introverted, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Social interaction tends to be taxing for introverts. We’re the kind of people who like quiet, “me” time and stay at home to have a relaxing night.

    Historically, plenty of cultures have prized introversion. The fact that American culture is largely extrovert-driven doesn’t mean that it’s bad to be an introvert.

  36. 36
    NotMax says:

    Shorter, much snarkier response (because a lighter vein does sometimes help to sort things out).

    Ever watch “Pawn Stars?”

    Would you accept Chumley as the unbiased, irrevocable arbiter of your mental condition?

    Just sayin’.

  37. 37
    gene108 says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Yup.

    In the “good old days” you could get people locked up for years, because they were different.

    Now we’re at another extreme, where it’s hard to get anyone locked up for anything short of pointing a gun at their head or your head.

    We really need to find a balance between locking people up and throwing away the key and rushing them into and out of the hospital.

  38. 38
    paulfl says:

    There is absolutely no reason why ordinary citizens need access to AK-47’s and other military-style automatic weapons. These should be banned immediately and permanently. You don’t need an Uzi for self-defense or for hunting — just hunting people.. These mass murders are indeed the act of deranged and unstable people; “culture” has nothing to do with it. But the way to stop these events is make sure no one can get their hands on weapons more deadly and powerful than those in use by police or the United States military. Stealth bombers are illegal to arm and use by private citizens. Why not “assault rifles” with 100-round armor-piercing bullets? – Principled Progressive

  39. 39
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    The VT shooter had been diagnosed with mental health issues, fwiw.

  40. 40
    NotMax says:

    @John

    True story.

    It may no longer be administered, but way, way back when I was in high school they gave a ‘profession evaluation’ test.

    Each of us had to have a one-on-one meeting with our respective guidance counselor to receive the results.

    The #1 profession the test spat out for me was ‘hermit.’

    Never could find a reputable college which offered that as a major. :)

  41. 41
    gene108 says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    Part of it is societial. We just don’t invite people into our homes/lives.

    A lot of this society is built around everyone having their own “space” and guarding their privacy.

    Also, more people live alone now than in earlier generations. Combine that with the privacy people want from their neighbors and you end up with a bad situation for loners, because it just becomes harder to mix with people.

    Outside of being in school (which has had its own problems for people) there isn’t a setting that we encounter that looks to socialize people.

    People go home, shut their doors and don’t mingle with neighbors. Work is a mixed bag for being in a social setting.

    In some ways we’ve made it easier for people to get out and mingle via the internet, but we’ve also made it so people can avoid contact with others more easily too.

  42. 42
    Wag says:

    @NotMax:

    I see your point about denying gun sales based on nonprofessional judgements. All I would propose would be a waiting period of a week or two. This would give people with communication problems or other issues that you describe time to gather documentation etc. Only the most foolhardy are proposing an outright ban on Gun ownership. But owning a gun should entail at least as much responsibility as getting a drivers lisence and owning a car.

  43. 43
    Maude says:

    He’s a psychopath.

  44. 44
    Narcissus says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe: We live in a consumerist, atomized society. We have no connection with human beings and human institutions beyond what the monetary value of the relationship is worth.

  45. 45
    chopper says:

    @gene108:

    just remind people that ‘cashing a check’ is not a constitutional right. neither is flying on a plane or driving a car or entering a costco.

  46. 46
    NotMax says:

    @Wag

    Well, first of all, there do already exist waiting periods under certain circumstances.

    Second of all,

    This would give people with communication problems or other issues that you describe time to gather documentation etc.

    There is no equitable reason they should be singled out by dint of what may well be an immutable characteristic to be scarlet-lettered to run that gantlet in order to justify their participation in the marketplace.

    Take it to a not inconceivable (unfortunately, even though patently illegal) furtherance: A black person being asked to bring in notarized references from whites to satisfy a bigoted vendor.

  47. 47
    Brachiator says:

    @JPL:

    IMO, they should shut down internet sales of ammo and kevlar gear. When someone buys 6000 rounds of ammo online you would think that at least could be tracked.

    But, but, a lot of these people stocking up on guns and ammo are Real White American Patriots(tm).

  48. 48
    Michele says:

    I think the jury is still out on this one. He was a neuroscience student fully capable of leaving a bizarre voice mail message to suggest emerging mental illness and set up an insanity defense. I think it is going to be difficult with this guy to parse out true, organic mental illness from a personality disorder like sociopathy.

  49. 49
    NotMax says:

    @Wag

    One more thing: in the case of Holmes, as he purportedly began accumulating arms in May, what resolution would a waiting period of a week or two have provided?

  50. 50
    NotMax says:

    @JPL

    When someone buys 6000 rounds of ammo online you would think that at least could be tracked.

    Some buy ammunition in bulk because it is cheaper that way, the same as buying most any product.

    And that’s not even getting into the argumentative area of real-time monitoring and tracking of internet sales of goods and services.

  51. 51
    MattMinus says:

    @NotMax: isn’t it obvious? It would allow a iliberal liberals to leverage a tragedy to advance their unrelated policy preferences!

  52. 52
    cmorenc says:

    @NotMax:

    ¹ Mental illness or mental disability (I purposely avoid using “derangement” – there were many who declared Gandhi deranged

    Yes, but Gandhi never attempted to purchase an arsenal of high-power firearms, ammo, and Kevlar armor. We’re not talking about screening everyone on the street for their weirdness or eccentricity quotient, but rather screening people for stability when they attempt to acquire potentially lethal weaponry.

  53. 53
    Mattminus says:

    @cmorenc:

    Or you could phrase it that you’re not trying to screen every weirdo, just those attempting to exercise their rights.

    Let’s keep in mind that the recommended screening agent likely has a confederate flag hanging somewhere in the screening room.

  54. 54
    Wag says:

    @NotMax:

    I would propose waiting periods for all, regardless of juristicion, regardless of wheter or not you’re “odd” or “normal.”. The same waiting period in Colorado or Texas as in NY. There is no waiting period here in Colorado. Its insane.

  55. 55
    Bernard Finel says:

    People are reading too much into what I was saying. I am not asking unqualified people to do psychiatric evaluations. I am merely suggesting that Holmes’ weirdness came across even in a casual interaction with the gun range owner. And I am surely not suggesting we lock people because some random gun vendor deems someone weird.

    They idea is merely to multiply those interactions and providing a reporting mechanism, with the sanction being that if you do sell to a nut, you might end up being held liable if you didn’t even do the minimum screening.

    And, again, by “screening” I just mean a simple conversation.

  56. 56
    Mattminus says:

    @Bernard Finel:

    So you’re suggesting that a state agent have a “simple conversation” with you to determine if you’re too weird for your rights?

    That doesn’t sound much better.

  57. 57

    @cathyx: I have that question as well, but people like to diagnose mental illness based on news reports far more frequently than they do say, cancer.

    Not all total assholes have brain disorders. Many have personality disorders, and some are simply assholes.

  58. 58
    NotMax says:

    @cmorenc

    when they attempt to acquire potentially lethal weaponry

    Six-shooters are not potentially lethal? Knives are not potentially lethal? Archery sets? Piano wire? Rat poison?

    All are readily employable as lethal weapons.

    Is it simply a matter of degree? Or of potential body count? (Huge magazines should be restricted, IMHO.)

    (end of response, strictly personal data follows)

    Do want to attempt to make something about where I’m coming from more evident, though.

    Hold myself second to no one in being vehemently and vociferously anti-gun, and have been for longer than I can possibly remember. Have always, even as a child, adamantly refused to so much as handle one, no matter its condition. But also realize that I cannot impose my will by fiat, and try (far, far from flawlessly) to deal with circumstances as they are, not as I might wish them to be. Banning guns outright is not realistically germane to what happened at the movie theater.

    Firmly believe that the death of one diminishes us all.

    That said, can and do support rigorous certification and training in firearms for purchasers, which should also be renewable by re-training every few years.

  59. 59
    liberal says:

    @Shawn in ShowMe:

    We live on a planet with 7 billion other human beings. You’d think the process of growing up would have properly “socialized us”. Instead, dealing with other people just gets on my nerves.

    We didn’t evolve under conditions like the ones we’re living in now.

    Speaking as someone who isn’t a loner but who prefers conducting business by email, can’t stand lots of other drivers, …

  60. 60
    NotMax says:

    @Bernard Finel

    Not only impractical, but downright offensive.

    Mandatory weirdness rings, perhaps (some ultra-tech derivative of mood rings)?

    Who screens the screeners?

    Is weirdness to be made a crime? Had it been the case then, Einstein would have cooled his heels in the pokey for a long, long time.

    “Where fear is present, wisdom cannot be.”
    — Lactantius

  61. 61
    NotMax says:

    As for the shooting range owner, consider him no more than a CYA publicity hound trying to deflect feared antagonism towards his business.

  62. 62
    Sloegin says:

    Have a gun vendors evaluate customers and deny a sale when the customers act strangely? Madness!

    Might as well have airline flight schools flip a lid when some swarthy student wants to learn how to take off and fly a plane but can’t be bothered to learn landings.

  63. 63
    Tractarian says:

    If I can sue a bartender for letting a drunk get behind the wheel of a car, why can’t I sue a gun vendor for selling a weapon to a guy showing symptoms of severed mental derangement?

    Because of things like this.

  64. 64
    NotMax says:

    @Sloegin

    Apples and oranges.

    Piloting a plane is not guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

    Bearing arms is.

    And therein lies the rub, and the crux of the dilemma.

  65. 65

    @Sloegin:
    Actually, the correct comparison is having an airline flight school flip a lid whenever a swarthy student wants to learn to fly a plane. The question is where people’s prejudices will get involved. When it comes to sanity, there’s a whole lot of prejudices to go around, and it is humiliating and potentially dangerous to be singled out as suspect of mental illness.

    @Laura:
    Excellent question. It is not yet proven, and I’m very willing to be proven wrong on this. His crime does very classically fit the profile of a schizophrenic outbreak in the weird circumstances of the murder, his age, the withdrawal beforehand, and rigging his own home with explosive booby traps. So it’s at least worthwhile to speculate on schizophrenia as a cause, but we must absolutely remember that’s just a plausible explanation, and far from a certain one.

  66. 66
    Catsy says:

    @gene108:

    I don’t want a gun store owner to be doing psych evaluations or deciding, who they think is unfit to own a gun because you can wind up with discrimination for “public safety”.

    “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”

    A person has a right to own firearms. They do not have any kind of right to insist that a specific vendor do business with them.

    I am completely okay with this. Sure, there will be the occasional wack job wingnut who decides to refuse to sell to, say, any dark-skinned person they don’t like. That sort of thing will establish an actionable pattern of racial discrimination that can be dealt with under existing law.

    Kudos to this gun range owner for exercising some basic common sense.

  67. 67

    Totally agree with this” If I can sue a bartender for letting a drunk get behind the wheel of a car, why can’t I sue a gun vendor for selling a weapon to a guy showing symptoms of severed mental derangement?”..

  68. 68
    LanceThruster says:

    Have only scanned the comments so far but a couple of things come to mind. First, the 2nd Amendment is not about the right to hunt so complaining about what firepower is needed to bring down certain game animals is not relavent.

    Secondly, at the time the 2nd Amendment was drafted, it basically ensured to right to possess some of the most lethal weaponry available of its time (the militia part is still constantly debated). Finally, maybe the NRA could find some middle ground on a restricted period if someone’s mental state comes into question. Not institutionalized, but a much lesser benchmark. And make it easier (i.e. less costly) to retreive firearms if one clears the provisional screening.

    I had a roommate who was charged with assaulting his former gf because he used mace on her when she drunkenly attacked him (with considerable warning beforehand). The charges were dropped but at the time all his firearms were confiscated. It will cost him around $2000 to file all the papers necessary for these to be returned to him.

    I do not know what outcome I would ultimately be in favor of, but it seems just too easy to kill people at random. But the big question is (much like our complaints against DHS), how do you defend against the proverbial “sucker punch?” and what rights are *you* willing to forfeit to feel safe(r)? Are you also willing to forfeit everyone else’s rights for your own feelings of safety?

  69. 69
    Mattminus says:

    @LanceThruster:

    Your rights stop where my feelings begin!

  70. 70
    IrishGirl says:

    “If I can sue a bartender for letting a drunk get behind the wheel of a car, why can’t I sue a gun vendor for selling a weapon to a guy showing symptoms of severed mental derangement?”

    Because gun nuts will tell you that we don’t have a constitutional right to drink/get drunk but we do have a right to own a gun…..not that I buy that argument, of course.

    It’s strange that we accept limitations on all our other rights (to varying degrees, but they are still there) but not on gun ownership. The gun lobby has whipped their supporters into such a paranoid delusion of fear that rational conversation on the topic is impossible. How can we get back to a rational conversation without curing them of their paranoia and how do we do that when the gun lobby is so pervasive, so strong, so rich?

  71. 71
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Randy P:

    How about if a flight school gets a call from a guy who wants to learn to fly a plane in the air, but doesn’t need to know how to take off or land. Is it OK with you if the instructor gets suspicious?

    The thing is that until the late 1960’s, gun control laws were often specifically targeted at African Americans, and especially in the South. The gun control laws that Governor Reagan signed in California continued that trend since they were meant specifically to keep the Black Panthers from marching on public streets with rifles. Giving any store carte blanche to discriminate on intangible factors is dangerous…and unfortunately, letting unstable nuts get guns is pretty damned dangerous too. :(

  72. 72
    celticdragonchick says:

    @IrishGirl:

    Because gun nuts will tell you that we don’t have a constitutional right to drink/get drunk but we do have a right to own a gun…..not that I buy that argument, of course.

    Gun ownership has been confirmed as a right by the SCOTUS and that is settled law now.(The exact type of weapons you may own is not settled, and it is difficult to imagine if and when the SCOTUS will want to take up issues like “assault weapons” bans and the like. Handgun bans have pretty much been tossed, however.) There is not actual right to have alcohol (there are still “dry” counties in the US), but the Federal Govt does not ban alcohol. That is left to the “several states”.

  73. 73
    celticdragonchick says:

    @JPL:

    Courts will not allow punitive taxation that is obviously meant to forbid ownership of a certain legal item (IE we will tax it out of existence). That has been ruled on previously, although I cannot recall the instance.

    Also, many, many gun owner are also reloaders and make their own ammunition. You would also have to punitively tax empty brass shell casings and forbid their resale or trade. Good luck with that. Not gonna happen.

  74. 74
    gene108 says:

    @Catsy:

    Refusing service isn’t what was argued.

    This is what was stated:

    But doing a basic screening before selling people guns and munitions might have caught this guy

    Who gets to do the mental health screening?

    Gun store owners?

    Refer people to an already overworked mental health system for evaluation and diagnosis?

  75. 75
    AA+ Bonds says:

    It became not that easy when the decision in Heller claimed a constitutional right to self-defense which is, to say the least, unenumerated

  76. 76
    AA+ Bonds says:

    The way I would put it is that the Supreme Court has fucked gun control, and the Second Amendment was always, pardon the analogy, a bomb waiting to go off

    The only way to keep the courts from expanding rights under it, as firearms technology advanced, was a gentleman’s agreement among the elite. That has now fallen apart

  77. 77
    Felinious Wench says:

    @Maude:

    He’s a psychopath.

    Maybe. But the amount of energy he was willing to expend in academics is what makes me think maybe not. Basically, there’s not a lot in it for him to excel at that level. Easier to just lie.

    Either way, he needs to be locked away from the rest of us. If it’s mental illness, he needs meds and needs to be forced to take them in an institution for the rest of his life (I have a paranoid schitzophrenic in my family, we made some very difficult choices). If he’s a psychopath, I don’t care if he lives or dies, basically.

    But, I am not a shrink. I study psychopaths because of my undergrad degree in cognitive psyc. Took a different path in grad school, but never lost my interest in the idea of not having a conscience and how that effects behavior.

  78. 78
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    We’ve been there in the 40s and 50s. And Victorian times. Look up the history of lobotomies some time. If you start forcing psych evaluations on anyone who shows symptoms the layman thinks are crazy, you will mostly be punishing nonconformity.

    Fair enough. As opposed to putting up some roadblocks to gun ownership, which would be sensible. The sensible solution is impossible, so now we have everyone advocating Baker Act on Steroids. I agree, we can’t go there. But it becomes the fallback when screening gun licenses or even just restricting extremely dangerous weapons becomes impossible.

  79. 79
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @NotMax: I can’t open-carry a katana, so I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Plenty of chemical and biological substances are CONTROLLED and illegal to sell/possess/share. So again, wtf are you on about?

  80. 80
    Mattminus says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    The fucking Constitution, how does it work?

  81. 81
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @the Conster:

    There’s a lot of hand reloading and bulletmaking equipment out there, and I suspect it’s not regulated at all.

    I don’t know about making ammunition for assault rifles, but for handguns and other rifles? Heck, I’ve helped my dad do that when I was a teenager.

  82. 82

    Remember Bill Frist’s Magical Long-Distance Diagnostic Powers?

    I don’t agree with this framing, that we’re all supposed to assume that Holmes is mentally ill. No proof, no diagnosis is available. And nobody here is qualified to make that determination.

    He could just be another asshole with a gun.

  83. 83
    LanceThruster says:

    @celticdragonchick: Rethuglican heads would explode if they actually understood the open carry rights were severely curtailed by St. Raygun (but they would approve once it was explained it was meant to keep the guns outta of the hands of the “scary” folks – i.e. the minorities).

    [sigh]

  84. 84
    SpotWeld says:

    It seems that in the US, at this moment in time, that for a gun shop owner the choice that “errs on the side of caution” is proceed with the sale to a customer that is potentially questionable.

    There is low risk (gun shops, save in obvious criminal disregard are not blamed for the actions of the gun owners).

    No reward (they are losing a sale, and there is no gain to no selling)

    And potential risk for not completing a sale (a gun shop owner seen as “weak on the 2nd ammendment”) would quicly be black-listed by the local gun enthusist commmunity.

  85. 85
    NotMax says:

    @Another Halocene Human

    So again, wtf are you on about?

    What I am “on about” is that framing the debate on “lethal weaponry” as was done in the comment to which I was responding is broadbrush and a red herring, whereas debating limitations, restrictions and regulations in terms of addressing degree and scope of intended lethality is not.

    That is where the second amendment specifically delineating a right most comes into play. It severely constrains what the courts can rule legitimate when it comes to the setting of such restrictions, limitations and regulation by the government.

    Quite glad you cannot open-carry a katana where you are. Not so universally. Not so many years ago, someone here was arrested when he open-carried one into the courthouse building. Outside, on the public sidewalk, he was in no violation.

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