Let me make something abundantly clear up front. I am a supporter of American gun rights and do not support blanket restrictions barring lawful Americans from purchasing firearms. I am not what most would classify as a “gun enthusiast.” However, indeed I own several firearms, including an M4 rifle, which has come to be called an "assault weapon" in the collective American consciousness. Additionally, I carry an M4 Carbine, a 12-gauge shotgun, and a .40 service pistol, while I am on-duty at work.
Personally, I support the right for individuals to be able to purchase and shoot M4 Carbine or AR-15, and AK-47 style semi-automatic rifles along with the different similar variants that encompass the “assault rifle” class of weapon. Now, again I am no big firearm guru, however, in layman’s terms, I will say these type of guns is fun to shoot. In essence, I can absolutely see the recreational aspect and enjoyment of shooting the varying styles of semi-automatic rifles.
With that, all said, Yes! Indeed, our current gun laws are ridiculous in America and here’s why.
On January 6, 2017, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago flew from Anchorage, Alaska to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Upon landing at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, he went to baggage claim like all the other passengers, calmly picked up his checked luggage, which contained a single semi-automatic pistol. Then, according to reports, Santiago loaded the firearm in an airport bathroom and began randomly shooting people inside the crowded luggage claim area. In the end, Santiago would kill five people and wound eight more. He would then peacefully surrender to law enforcement and was took into custody without incident.
Before a single victim had been identified, potentially to even their own family members, media reporters had already tracked down some of Santiago’s family members, and they began providing the world with chilling insights into the young man who had killed five people in cold blood.
Santiago’s Aunt, Maria Ruiz stated that he was a former U.S. Army Reservist and National Guardsmen, who during his time in the military spent nine and a half months in Iraq. Ruiz stated that “Something got to him” referring to Santiago. She said it appeared he had “lost his mind” and that he would say that he would “see things.” Additionally, Ruiz stated that Santiago had recently been admitted to the hospital due to some psychiatric issues.
Additional information continued to pour in that presented a picture of Santiago as an individual who suffers from a severe mental illness. Officials confirmed that in November of 2016, less than two months before his shooting rampage, Santiago walked into the FBI Anchorage field office and told Agents he was under the effects of mind control by the CIA. He claimed the CIA was forcing him to watch ISIS propaganda videos and ultimately trying to make him work for the terrorist network. Santiago’s behavior was so agitated and incoherent during his conversations with them that they determined he was suffering from some serious mental condition and summed the local authorities to have him taken into custody for mental health evaluation.
Based on what the limited information that has been put out in the media, by Santiago’s family, and FBI sources, it would appear that Santiago has severe paranoid schizophrenia. In fact, the details that have come out are archetype behaviors of a paranoid schizophrenic who has delusions that someone or some organization is plotting against them. Paranoid schizophrenia is a lifelong disease. Psychiatric intervention, involving proper treatment can increase the quality of life for someone who has schizophrenia. However, there is no actual cure.
So on Thursday, January 5, 2017, when Santiago boarded a plane in Anchorage, Alaska, landed for a layover in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and then flew to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport. He brought with him in his checked luggage, what appears from the photographs circulating online, a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield semi-automatic pistol. A handgun he was able to retrieve and load while still inside the crowded airport. In light of all of this, and Santiago’s past evidence of mental illness, he actually didn’t break a single law until he loaded the pistol and fired his first shot.
Let that sink in for a moment. A man, who had walked into an FBI office, exhibited paranoid delusions to such an extent that local authorities were summoned to have Santiago taken into custody for mental evaluation, was able to lawful possess and carry a firearm, with such impunity that it facilitated his eventual spree crime.
In fact, some media sources had disclosed that law enforcement officials speaking on a condition of anonymity said that Santiago currently held a valid concealed weapons permit when he landed in the busy Florida airport.
Does any of this make sense to you, because honestly, it shouldn’t? However, just in case you still are on the fence about how ridiculously convoluted American gun laws have become, let me share some personal information with you.
Here are actual photographs of the letter sent to me by the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation. The content of the letters pertains to an appeal I had filed with the FBI regarding the status of my ability to lawfully purchase a firearm in the United States.
That’s right. A current fourteen-year police veteran, who carries a gun as a requirement for my job; who has received almost 200 credit hours of formal firearms training, has been cleared to possess a firearm within proximity of President George W. Bush in 2004, Vice President Dick Chaney in 2004, President Barack Obama in 2010, and Vice President Joe Biden in 2013, who has active access to the federal EPIC intelligence database, is currently banned by the federal government from purchasing a firearm by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Why pray tell, would I be prohibited from lawfully purchasing a firearm, when there is a host of evidence to substantiate that I have more than a legitimate right to do so? Well, that’s because the Indiana State Police decided my name seemed similar to some other person who shouldn’t be allowed to legally own a firearm, so they added my information to the “banned list.” I feel like it is important to note at this moment, that not only have I never even crossed the state line of Indiana in my life. But it took me a moment when I found out, to remember where exactly that state of Indiana is located within the continental U.S. (no offense to anyone from Indiana).
So as an active police officer, I cannot currently purchase a firearm anywhere in the United States, a right or ability that had been revoked from me, without any due process.
However, Mr. Santiago who was suffering from clear indications of concerning mental illness was still afforded the ability to legally carry the exact instrument that he would use to commit his heinous crime. The same goes for Aaron Alexis, who killed thirteen people at the Washington Naval Shipyard, James Holmes who murdered 24 people in Aurora, Colorado, or Seung-Hui Cho, who took 32 people's lives on the campus of Virginia Tech. All these individuals exhibited characteristic behaviors of mental illness that were identified by law enforcement or mental health professionals before they committed their sickening crimes. Yet, all of them were able to obtain and possess firearms lawfully.
Ultimately America, it is time that we wake up and demand that our politicians on both sides of the aisle support common sense legislation that will prohibit the ability for individuals who have been diagnosed with mental disorders from legally purchasing firearms. What I am saying, isn’t some “anti-gun” rhetoric in response to some specific gun attack. It is the exact opposite.
My message is a “pro-gun” stance, in that to protect American firearm rights and reduce innocent deaths, we must be willing to pass genuine and meaningful laws that protect lawful gun owners.