Texas Gun Control Advocate Leslie Ervin: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

“Open carry went into effect on January 1, and concealed carry will be allowed at the state’s public universities beginning August 1,” Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agitpropmeisters at The Trace inform in their email blast. “Amid the debate over those changes, less-enthusiastic opinions on guns have begun to challenge attitudes that were once nearly unanimous. Texas Monthly spoke to five Texans whose thoughts on gun ownership and gun restrictions vary wildly.” Yeah, it’s one of those “fair and balanced” deals. Only it’s not fair and the most outspoken pro-gun control activist’s account makes an unbalanced argument. Like this, from the gun control activist and mother of a mentally ill man . . .

When Lex started becoming more critical in his illness—I would say it was in eighth grade. And we didn’t realize it, but I believe he started showing signs of schizophrenia. Then he started getting more and more detached the older he got, which is a pattern. Kids hit their late teens, and that’s when schizophrenia kicks in. He was spending more time alone, more time in his room.

That was all up until his eighteenth birthday. That was the day I got a call from Joe McBride up at McBride’s gun store. As soon as they opened, Lex walked in there and tried to buy a gun. Joe said, “Your son’s here. He looks like he’s on PCP, and I’m not selling him a gun.”

Result! Without any government interference, a potentially dangerous person was denied a firearm. And responsible people were notified so action could be taken to prevent a tragedy. But, according to Leslie Ervin’s account, neither she nor the police could remove her schizophrenic son’s gun rights. He’d reached the age of majority and hadn’t committed a crime.

You know where this is going, right? Wrong.

He went to Academy and Cabela’s and started buying guns. He bought pistols, he had a long gun . . .

That’s when we really started getting scared, because he had guns now. But Scott always said, “We just have to love him unconditionally. We can’t change him. He’s not going to hurt anybody. He’s our son.” This is the worst part. You don’t know somebody’s going to do something till they do it . . .

So I said goodbye to Scott. Lex had been kind of pacing around, which is not unusual for him. He paced. But he was waiting for me to leave, of course. I pulled out of the driveway, and he must have gone right in and done it.

I got to the restaurant, walked in, sat down, and [my youngest son] Max called. I answered it and Max is screaming, “Lex stabbed Scott! Come home!”

The way that it happened—well, the police said Lex walked in and hit Scott on the back of the head with a pipe wrench. Scott spun around in his chair, and Lex stabbed him twice. And those two puncture wounds were fatal. The ER doc would say that once he was hit with that knife, even if there was an operating table in that room, we couldn’t have saved him.

But it takes a long time for someone to bleed out. Scott called for Max and was yelling at Lex, “No! No!” Max ran in and grabbed Lex. And Lex was saying, “Stand back. I’m a trained assassin. I work for the CIA. This man is an impostor. He’s going to kill the family, and I’m here to protect you.”

Max was able to pull Lex away. Finally, they broke a vase over Lex’s head. At that point, Max walked Scott out into the kitchen, laid him down on the floor, and stayed with him until EMS came.

It bears repeating: Ms. Ervin’s son murdered his father with a pipe wrench and a knife. Not a gun.

You and I understand that a murder’s method is not the proper focus for anyone seeking to prevent a similar incident. Nor is it particularly useful to focus on firearms when trying to reduce suicides or gang banging or even negligent discharges. The proper focus: the mindset of the person using the tool.

After the period where I was putting my life back together, the first thing I wanted to do was get involved with NAMI [the National Alliance on Mental Illness]. At the same time, I started working with Texas Gun Sense [a group advocating “commonsense” gun control], because I realized what was necessary was a gun-violence protective order, which could have temporarily taken away Lex’s guns, because he was clearly unstable.

It’s not complicated. People who are in crisis should not be allowed to purchase or own firearms. “Crisis” being the key word. “Crisis” means not in your right mind.

Had we had a gun-violence protective order as a law in Texas, when I called the police and said that my mentally ill son in crisis had guns, they would have interviewed him. If they agreed he shouldn’t have guns, they would have confiscated his guns pending an evaluation by a professional.

When I sit down and tell my story, I ask, “Do you think that a young man who would murder his dad a month later with a knife should be allowed to own firearms?” I don’t think there’s one person who would say yes. This would be an unmedicated paranoid schizophrenic having delusions going and purchasing firearms. I haven’t met one person at the Texas Capitol who has said yes.

That’s what happens when you ask a trick question: you get the answer you want. As Ms. Ervin’s own story indicates, a Lone Star State Gun Violence Restraining Order would have done nothing to prevent her husband’s murder. But it would violate the Second, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

I know where Ms. Ervin’s coming from. A friend’s schizophrenic brother beat her father to death with a hammer. But she’s like the drunk who looks for his lost car keys under streetlamp because the light’s better. While the anti-gun community no doubt offers her the emotional support she needs, their GVRO “solution” to the challenge of dealing with dangerously mentally ill individuals is a grave danger to us all. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

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