Friday, June 14, 2013

Fast and Furious: American Style

It's no secret that GOP Congressman Darrell Issa has used his chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to relentlessly attempt to tie the Obama administration to scandal -- real or manufactured.

Just recall how the usually gun happy GOP lead a fishing expedition to link the White House to the Fast and Furious gun scandal: The Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives apparently allowed some gun sales in Arizona to known Mexican criminals. Two of the guns involved were found at the scene of a firefight in which U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed.

The GOP, via self-righteous indignation, was furious that the ATF demonstrated recklessness in allowing guns to fall in the hands of Mexican criminals. This GOP Fast and Furious (FF)  tirade begs one to ask: Where is the FF anger over how American made guns continuously fall into the hands of American criminals or Americans with severe mental health issues?

 New details have emerged about the mental health record of John Zawahri, the gunman who killed five and wounded several others in Santa Monica last week, raising questions about how he was able to obtain the arsenal of military-style weapons used in the massacre. The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified school district confirmed Wednesday that Zawahri was removed from his continuation high school for posing a threat of violence to other students.

Zawahri originally attended Santa Monica High School, but was sent to Olympic High, a school for kids with academic or disciplinary issues. At Olympic, it was common knowledge among the students that Zawahri often browsed for assault weapons online. Family friends said he “had a fascination with guns.” In 2006, one student told an English teacher that Zawahri had invited him to his house, showed him his samurai sword and listed students he wanted to hurt. The teacher reported it to the principal, and soon law enforcement got involved. Police searched his house, but it is not clear if they found any weapons. Zawahri was also apparently watching YouTube videos on how to make pipe bombs and other explosives.

The teenager was removed from school and hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. He was released not long after, surprising many teachers.
Despite this record, Zawahri was somehow able to obtain a semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle, 40 high-capacity magazines, and at least 1,300 rounds of ammunition. After a person is institutionalized for a psychiatric exam, they are banned from possessing firearms for five years — which would have let Zawahri get weapons after 2011.

Police are still tracing Zawahri’s weapons to try to determine how exactly he was able to stockpile so much ammo. One gun, a black powder handgun, is thought to be a “curio or relic type” of weapon that may have been in the family for years. The AR-15 assault rifle may have been banned for sale under California law.

Mental health has been a central issue of the gun debate, after multiple mass shooters showed warning signs of violence and instability yet were still able to get guns and wreak havoc. After Seung-Hui Choi, who had been declared a danger to himself or others, killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, Congress passed a law meant to improve reporting of people who had been involuntarily committed for background checks. However, the National Rifle Association managed to insert provisions that actually made it easier for people with mental illness records to get their gun rights restored.

Yet even if the background check system had been effective in stopping institutionalized violent individuals from buying guns from federally licensed dealers, Zawahri could have dodged a background check by buying his arsenal online or at a gun show without detection. source

The bizarre conservative response: All the mass shootings are Obama conspiracies in a plot to take guns from law abiding Americans.

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