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General News    H3'ed 1/8/17

Tried to Strangle His Girlfriend, Heard Voices--Gun Cheerfully Returned to Him

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Like 85% of mass shooters, confessed Fort Lauderdale murderer Esteban Santiago was a legal gun owner. And, like a comparable number of mass shooters, he had severe mental illness, prior legal incidents and was known to authorities.

Most mass shooters are clearly mentally ill yet legal gun owners
Most mass shooters are clearly mentally ill yet legal gun owners
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Who remembers Aaron Alexis who killed 12 at the Washington Naval Yard in 2013? His military service was checkered with misconduct and he had mental health issues but sailed through his background check and bought his murder weapon at Sharpshooters in Lorton, VA two days before his shootings. No matter that he had been previously charged in two shooting crimes.

Who remembers Kyle Aaron Huff who killed six at a Seattle rave? Like Santiago, police in Whitefish, MT returned Huff's gun after they seized it when he previously shot up a public art installation. No hard feelings. (In 2014, police returned a gun seized from a dangerous man whereupon he killed his wife and himself.)

"Like most future mass shooters, Santiago was known to authorities. He had been charged with domestic abuse, a mere misdemeanor said Justice Clarence Thomas when considering the Constitutional right to own a gun."

When legal gun owners kill, especially mass shootings, the gun lobby is usually silent because its official position is: laws would make no difference because "criminals don't obey laws."""But the gun lobby also thinks the "rights" of convicted felons, domestic abusers and people who have been hospitalized for mental illness to own lethal weapons are more important than their future victims.

After the Virginia Tech murders, NRA lobbyists pushed through a gun restoration provision for mentally ill people in national background check laws if they "will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety. Key word "likely."

"In several ways this bill is better for gun owners than current law," boasted the NRA website because "certain types of mental health orders will no longer prohibit a person from possessing or receiving a firearm."

Thanks to the gun lobby maneuver, Sam French, a Virginian who was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility and told authorities he heard voices, had his right to possess firearms reinstated and his gun returned after a short court hearing in 2009. Why should hearing voices intrude on his "gun rights" bellowed the gun lobby--a question now being asked in Fort Lauderdale.

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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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