Guns, responsibility, and madness

One thing overlooked in all the commentary over the Charleston church massacre is a factor common to several high-profile crimes of the past few years: the novel and bizarre practice of qualified gun owners and purchasers providing weapons (or opportunities to use them) to mentally unbalanced individuals.

(No – I have not gone over to Rove, nor am I selling out to Handgun Control.  I’m a gun owner myself, which is why this issue concerns me, as it should concern all gun owners.)

In at least three notable recent crimes, access to guns was given to disturbed individuals with fatal consequences.

The first of these incidents involved master Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle.  Kyle had befriended former Marine Eddie Ray Routh, who allegedly suffered from PTSD, and invited him to a range for some target shooting.  Kyle believed that this helped relieve the anxieties associated with the disorder and had achieved positive results in the past.

Unfortunately, PTSD was the least of Routh’s problems (if, in fact, he ever actually suffered from it at all).  Apparently unprovoked, he turned his gun against both Kyle and Chad Littlefield, who had accompanied them, and shot them dead.

This is not to disrespect Kyle, whose achievements in taking down large numbers of active jihadis is a better day’s work than I’m ever likely to carry out.  But he made a mistake in arranging a shooting opportunity for Routh, losing his life and denying the country of a hero at a time when heroes are few.

The next case is that of Adam Lanza, whose mother Nancy was far too overprotective, willingly granting her son the isolation in which he deteriorated to a point where he could kill a classroom of small children.  One of the few things he was interested in was weapons, which she provided to him, including the guns he took to the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  For that upcoming Christmas she had promised him an automatic pistol, despite the fact that she fully realized what condition he was in.  As a report from the Connecticut Child Advocate’s Office stated, “[i]t is reasonable to wonder what actions [Adam Lanza] would have taken and whether the Sandy Hook tragedy could have occurred at all if he had not had unfettered access to significant weaponry and ammunition.”  Nancy Lanza may have been her son’s first victim, but she was also clearly an accessory as well.

Which brings us to Dylann Storm Roof.  By all accounts, Roof was an abnormal individual widely recognized as such and avoided by many.  Despite this, his parents gave in to his wishes and purchased him a .45 cal. automatic as a birthday gift.  The fact that they didn’t allow him to keep it is telling in and of itself.  But he obviously knew where it was, and he recovered it (perhaps when his parents left the house) to carry out his grand mission of shooting down a group of people studying the teachings of Jesus.

How does this make sense to anybody?  There used to be a saying, on the level of cliché: “That’s like giving a loaded pistol to a maniac/an idiot.”  I guess that one’s fallen out of use, like many other pieces of formerly commonplace wisdom.

All the same, it should be obvious to anyone that you don’t provide deadly weapons to quivering neurotics or cold-eyed psychopaths.  The entire argument for gun rights is premised on the belief that armed citizens can fulfill their constitutional responsibilities in a thoughtful and accountable manner.  There is nothing thoughtful in this practice.

These three cases may well be the tip of the iceberg.  There may be hundreds of well-meaning but thoughtless individuals providing firearms to people who should not be within a mile of a loaded weapon.  It has to cease.  If anyone reading this is considering such a thing, think again.  If you know of such a situation, by all means, intervene.  You may well be saving lives.

One thing overlooked in all the commentary over the Charleston church massacre is a factor common to several high-profile crimes of the past few years: the novel and bizarre practice of qualified gun owners and purchasers providing weapons (or opportunities to use them) to mentally unbalanced individuals.

(No – I have not gone over to Rove, nor am I selling out to Handgun Control.  I’m a gun owner myself, which is why this issue concerns me, as it should concern all gun owners.)

In at least three notable recent crimes, access to guns was given to disturbed individuals with fatal consequences.

The first of these incidents involved master Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle.  Kyle had befriended former Marine Eddie Ray Routh, who allegedly suffered from PTSD, and invited him to a range for some target shooting.  Kyle believed that this helped relieve the anxieties associated with the disorder and had achieved positive results in the past.

Unfortunately, PTSD was the least of Routh’s problems (if, in fact, he ever actually suffered from it at all).  Apparently unprovoked, he turned his gun against both Kyle and Chad Littlefield, who had accompanied them, and shot them dead.

This is not to disrespect Kyle, whose achievements in taking down large numbers of active jihadis is a better day’s work than I’m ever likely to carry out.  But he made a mistake in arranging a shooting opportunity for Routh, losing his life and denying the country of a hero at a time when heroes are few.

The next case is that of Adam Lanza, whose mother Nancy was far too overprotective, willingly granting her son the isolation in which he deteriorated to a point where he could kill a classroom of small children.  One of the few things he was interested in was weapons, which she provided to him, including the guns he took to the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  For that upcoming Christmas she had promised him an automatic pistol, despite the fact that she fully realized what condition he was in.  As a report from the Connecticut Child Advocate’s Office stated, “[i]t is reasonable to wonder what actions [Adam Lanza] would have taken and whether the Sandy Hook tragedy could have occurred at all if he had not had unfettered access to significant weaponry and ammunition.”  Nancy Lanza may have been her son’s first victim, but she was also clearly an accessory as well.

Which brings us to Dylann Storm Roof.  By all accounts, Roof was an abnormal individual widely recognized as such and avoided by many.  Despite this, his parents gave in to his wishes and purchased him a .45 cal. automatic as a birthday gift.  The fact that they didn’t allow him to keep it is telling in and of itself.  But he obviously knew where it was, and he recovered it (perhaps when his parents left the house) to carry out his grand mission of shooting down a group of people studying the teachings of Jesus.

How does this make sense to anybody?  There used to be a saying, on the level of cliché: “That’s like giving a loaded pistol to a maniac/an idiot.”  I guess that one’s fallen out of use, like many other pieces of formerly commonplace wisdom.

All the same, it should be obvious to anyone that you don’t provide deadly weapons to quivering neurotics or cold-eyed psychopaths.  The entire argument for gun rights is premised on the belief that armed citizens can fulfill their constitutional responsibilities in a thoughtful and accountable manner.  There is nothing thoughtful in this practice.

These three cases may well be the tip of the iceberg.  There may be hundreds of well-meaning but thoughtless individuals providing firearms to people who should not be within a mile of a loaded weapon.  It has to cease.  If anyone reading this is considering such a thing, think again.  If you know of such a situation, by all means, intervene.  You may well be saving lives.