Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Our country fails us, morons blather, and we weep: Sutherland Springs

A wicked person kills children, parents, and grandparents in church on Sunday morning.

The morons started blathering immediately, long before any more facts were known. Those of us who aren't idiots held off, until there were more facts available.

Forty eight hours haven't passed, as of the time I started writing this. That's not very much time, but even so, certain facts are clear about what happened at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.

The blathering continues unchanged, despite facts.

Here's the series of events, as understood by me at 8 AM Tuesday morning:

During the Sunday 11:00 AM service, a 26 year-old man with a rifle fired several shots into the windows of First Baptist Church from the outside. He then entered the building, and continued shooting. As of Tuesday morning, reports state at least 26 people are dead and as many as 30 more were wounded. More than half of those killed were children.

He exited the building, and was engaged by a good guy with a gun, who shot the bad guy twice, causing him to drop his rifle. The bad guy then entered his vehicle and left the premises. The good guy with a gun recruited a good guy with a truck, and they closely pursued the subject, maintaining telephone contact with the police during the chase.

Several miles down the road, the shooter's vehicle left the road. The good guy with a gun maintained an overwatch until authorities arrived on scene several minutes later, and took charge. The bad guy was dead on the scene.

More about who, how, and why.

The shooter had been an enlisted man in the Air Force from 2010 until 2014.
However, for (at least) the last year of that time, he was incarcerated by the Air Force. In 2012, he was convicted by a general court-martial, the most serious level of military courts, on two counts of domestic violence. One count was for violence he committed against his step-son; the second was against his wife.
His wife divorced him around the time of his conviction.
He could have served as many as five years, but made a plea deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to one year. In 2014 he was released from incarceration, given a bad-conduct discharge, stripped of rank, and forfeited all pay and benefits.

So: who is he? Among other things, he was an unregenerate domestic abuser.

How does this guy get a gun? Short answer: our government failed to protect us.
His name SHOULD have been entered into the National Instant Criminal Background System (NCIS)  database. It was not. 
On four separate occasions, in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, he completed background checks, and was permitted to purchase a firearm from the holder of a Federal Firearms License. This is NOT a fault of the person/company who sold him the firearm. It IS an egregious failure on behalf of the United States Air Force to follow procedure.

Why did he kill people at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs?
He got married again in 2014. There hasn't been anything I've seen about his relationship with his second wife, but there are many reports that he sent hostile texts to his mother-in-law, including one the morning of Sunday, November 5. That was her regular church. My conclusion? He was going there to kill her. Fortunately for her, she wasn't there that morning. Her mother was, however, and she was one of the people he killed.

Concerning those who blather. I had the misfortune to listen to a short commentary this morning by a person I know nothing about. He reviewed the statements made by various politicians, who gave assorted versions of 'our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Texas.' He repeated the phrase, and although he professed that certainly thoughts and prayers were needed, he clearly showed by his tone that he thought more was called for. What that might be, he did not suggest.

But in this case, I agree. More needs to be done.

First and foremost way our nation failed us in this case. We MUST make sure that no other person convicted by a general court-martial goes unreported to the NCIS. If this was a one-time error, that's one thing. However, if we discover that there has been a failure to implement this safeguard on a systematic basis, I want to know who is going to pay for that. This is an easy fix.

Second, and more important, we have no coherent mental health program. The shooter was crazy, and nobody could do anything about it.  We made the decision as a nation to get out of the mental health business decades ago.  I say it's time to fix this thing. It's going to cost us money. But we are paying for not fixing it anyway.
It's personal for me. I have a family member with a mental illness. I can't tell you how many nights I have spent wondering if he had a warm bed to sleep in. He's a wonderful person to be around, but when he refuses to take his medication, the voices tell him things, and after a while, he listens. And there is currently no provision in law to force him to take his meds, and so we wait, until we get the next phone call, and we hope that it's just that he's going to jail because the voices told him to spit on the lady's car, and not that we need to come identify his body.

My church is renewing a commitment to develop a crisis response team. That will mean, among other things, that we don't have to wait for the good guy with the gun to come from next door, as he did on Sunday, or to go out to the parking lot to get his own pistol. We MUST count on ourselves for self-protection. That has to come first. But we also need to hold our law-makers accountable for implementing the plans which exist, and for developing new plans when the need arises.

Peace be on your household.


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