Monday June 22, 2015
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I don't want to add to the blathering and hand wringing over what happened when Dylann Roof killed nine people at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
But, we can't help but wonder how a 21-year-old man - barely a man - could get to a place in his head that not only made his act possible, but apparently made it inevitable.
I don't want to play politics with this. I am a member of the NRA and will continue to be one, but background checks for all types of firearms are hard to argue with. I have a pistol. It's locked inside a heavy plastic container with a trigger lock inside of that. I am (or was) a pretty good shot.
I came by it legitimately and exchanged ownership at a licensed gun shop in Northern Virginia.
I'm keeping it.
Dylann Roof had been acting strangely. For a long time. According to a very good summary in the Washington Post over the weekend, his parents more-or-less gave up on him, an uncle tried to fill the gap, and his friends - or at least the people he associated with - all believed he was a troubled teenager, then troubled young man.
Where, in our culture, does someone like Dylann Roof come to the attention of mental health officials. Where, under our laws, does the state have a responsibility to step in and take someone like Dylann Roof off the streets?
When do we, as a society, say to his parents: He's your kid. If you couldn't get through to him, you should have asked for - demanded - help.
What his father did was, according to the Post article, "either bought for him or gave him the money to buy" a Glock .45-caliber pistol for his birthday this past April. According to law enforcement officials "the gun was purchased legally."
Even as a strong Second Amendment guy, I am deeply troubled by that.
Roof's own words and writings have made it clear he wanted to start a race war. His written and oral statements, which I will not repeat here, made it clear he had become enamored by the concept of White supremacy.
His associates and family heard him say these things. The Internet was home to a webpage he set up for people to read his racist and Anti-Semitic rants. He was "arrested twice earlier this year, once on a drug charge and later for trespassing, records show," according to the Post article. He was "found guilty of trespassing, but the drug charge is still pending."
So, the authorities knew about him, too. In fact, he has been paying off the trespass fine in installments.
Dylann Roof had no permanent address, although he apparently drifted in and out of friends and relatives homes. He doesn't appear to have had a job, although he bought the weapon and ammunition. He knew enough (or knew someone who knew enough) to purchase and set up a web page, although he dropped out of school when he was about 16.
It does no good to say that Roof would have found a way to get a gun and ammunition no matter what the gun laws are.
I get that.
But, what 2nd Amendment adherents must do is to help come up with a formula that might have prevented the shooting at the Emanuel AME Church, while preserving the rights of lawful gun owners.
The fact that his took place in South Carolina adds the whole matter of the Confederate Battle Flag on the Statehouse grounds.
It should come down. Governor Nikki Haley should order whoever is responsible for raising it every day to not do it this morning. If she is sued, fight the suit.
U.S. Route 1 in Alexandria, Virginia is officially known as Jefferson Davis Highway. I have long wondered how long it would be until someone said, "That's like having an autobahn in Germany named for Hermann Goering.
Symbols are important. That's why they're called symbols. Symbols, like the Confederate flag or Jefferson Davis Highway, are not just an acknowledgment of a bygone era. They are celebratory by their nature.
Taking down the flag or changing the name of Route 1 would not have had any effect on Dylann Roof.
But, as we reassess what went wrong, we can use this horrid event as a good excuse to make at least two minor changes for the better.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Washington Post summary and to a piece in the Greenville (SC
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