Another gunman this week? One hearing voices? Voices telling him to hurt people? Golly, why didn't someone DO something? Five dead people. A grandfather. A great-grandmother. Killed right next to their spouses.
The gunman is a veteran. They said he has PTSD. His family said that serving his country in Iraq "changed him." That he could not get the images of dead children out of his mind. Mental illness and then issues involving domestic abuse. An unwell man with a weapon.
Who's to blame?
He turned himself in to the FBI in Alaska and told them he was hearing voices. That is what's called a "plea for help." They had him evaluated and they took his gun. And then they gave it back. They gave it back. Now five people are dead and six more wounded. And already I read about how "liberals want to take our guns away." "It's another madman!" "Guns don't kill people — crazy people kill people."
But the FBI turned Esteban Santiago over to local police. They had him examined by mental health experts and one month later they gave him his gun back. Because that is the law. That unless he — as a veteran—- was adjudicated and found mentally incapacitated, they had to. Because that's how the gun rights people want it. That's how America wants it. That's the price we all pay for "freedom."
Now I just know that someone with an NRA sticker on their truck won't like that, but I'm sorry. I don't know about any of YOU, but if I was hearing voices I'd want someone to take away MY gun to ensure that my wife and kids (and yours) are safe and protected. Wouldn't you? Because, let me tell you, if you're NUTS then I promise that you're probably the last one to know it.
I honestly and seriously keep expecting for this to happen here. But in 2013, after Aurora and Newtown, the vice president led a commission to examine what could be done to eliminate this specific kind of gun violence. This one — crazy people with guns. That commission produced 23 recommendations and the president submitted them to Congress. Here they are:
Please pay extra attention to items: 5, 14, 17, and 20-23.
1. Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a presidential memorandum directing the Centers For Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA Exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
Not one of those 23 recommendations would interfere with responsible gun ownership or Second Amendment rights in any conceivable way. Unless, of course, you're crazy.
But if put into place and funded, these recommendations could have prevented this shooting as they were designed to do. Esteban Santiago might have gotten the help he needed instead of getting his gun handed back.
So, what happened? Surely something was done? These look reasonable and responsible. No. Nope. Nadda. Zip. Diddly. Bupkis.
Conservative congressman and senators — the same ones condemning law enforcement and the FBI for not doing something — called President Obama a gun grabber, anti-American, and "pathetically out of touch with Middle America." And those same folks who were bought and paid for by the NRA refused to consider the president's recommendations.
So, if you're looking for somebody to blame for Fort Lauderdale, you don't need to look any further than the mirror if you voted Republican. You can put the blame squarely on our Congress and those Americans who put those useless (expletive) into office and let them get away with it.
Why don't things get accomplished regarding gun violence in America? One word and that word is "Washington."
(Alan Vervaeke is a veteran and father happily living in Gilford.)
- Category: Columns
- Hits: 75