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It’s funny peculiar that gun control advocates focused on spree killer Jared Lee Loughner’s extended magazine after he shot Congresswoman Giffords and killed six others. Their fixation is like a drunk looking for his keys under the streetlamp because the light’s better. The real issue: why was this lunatic—sorry, deeply mentally ill person walking the streets? is sharing the fruits of its successful legal effort to force Loughner’s alma mater, Pima Community College, to release over 250 emails mentioning the murderer. And guess who was in on the intersection between an obviously dangerous, erratic individual and guns?

The Phoenix division of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Did special agent Altmnasio Vlahoulis stop Jared Lee Loughner from purchasing a firearm, or look into his access to firearms, or make some kind of move to prevent Loughner from acquiring firearms? He did not.

This is what he wrote to the college:

I did not come up with any gun info on this guy. Let me know if you need anything else.

I guess Vlahoulis and his Phoenix ATF homies were too busy enabling Mexican gun smugglers. [Click here for a pdf of all the Pima – Loughner emails]

Clearly, the Loughner killings were preventable. The bureaucrats at Pima Community College were too busy trying to do the right thing to do the right thing. If you know what I mean. If not, here’s an email from Pima Community College Dean Patricia Houston:

Yesterday, after the Active Shooter scenario training, I spoke to Officer Amado who recommended that we file a report to open a background investigation. Officer Reeve responded and told me that he would begin the process to take the student out of the class and expel him. I told him that we were not ready to do that because we need more investigation.

After active shooter training, the Dean acknowledges the possibility of Loughner going postal. And then played CYA: “It is a matter of balancing the disruptive student’s right to due process with the rights of the other students in the class.”

Back to the ATF, then, which is supposed to be our final line of defense against criminals and psychos and criminal psychos (but not Mexican drug lords) who want to buy guns and shoot the wrong people with them.

As we’ve said before, as the record clearly indicates, The ATF’s so busy being proactive—setting up lazy-ass “stings”—that they’ve forgotten how to be reactive.

Remember how Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious (the aforementioned AFT gun-enabling ops) got started? Gun dealers called the ATF. And what did they do? They made the problem worse.

Pima Community College sends them an email about a loon on the edge, and all they can do is run his name through the FBI’s NCIS criminal background check system and say “He ain’t in the system?” How hard would it have been to ping a few folks in the law enforcement community?

I know at least six families that should be feeling very, very angry right now. And tens of millions of taxpayers who are pouring money down an ATF-shaped rathole for no particular reason. DATF (Disband the ATF).




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  1. “The bureaucrats at Pima Community College were too busy trying to do the right thing to do the right thing. ”

    Aside from the ATF and the Pima Police dropping the ball, one thing that is completely glossed over is the lack of follow though from the College itself. Loughner was enough of a danger to other students and staff that he was expelled. Enough of a danger that the College did not want him on campus. So why didn’t the school’s disciplinary board require Loughner to see an on site psychologist? They apparently were requiring an evaluation for him to be readmitted so why not do a little ‘litigation’ CYA and evaluate him before expulsion? And if Loughner was such a perceived danger, why did the College not follow up by filing a restraining order to keep him off campus? The Campus police and administration certainly had the evidence to support such an action. A simple piece of paper and 5 minutes before a judge. Something that may very well have prevented him from passing the NCIS and buying a handgun (aside from private party purchases, garage sales, etc).

    If you were a parent and sent your child to that school, wouldn’t you expect the administration to go the extra mile? Clearly they didn’t as it was just easier to expel him then use the resources at their disposal. How many other schools have the same procedures in place?

    I don’t know what the standard protocol is for expulsion hearings in colleges and universities, but I do know that many symptoms of mental illness surface in a person’s early 20’s. Colleges and Universities are in a good position to catch such people before they fall though the cracks. Shame that the discussion has been focused on gun control instead of addressing access to mental health professionals and using resources already available to prevent future tragedy.

    • It is very easy to blame the school in this situation, but how does a school “require Loughner to see an on site psychologist”? It is one thing to mandate that he be evaluated before returning to school, but what authority would the school have to do more than that? We often harp about the back-booted, power-mongering bureaucrats who try to strip our rights from us, but then we blame them for not forcing someone to see a psychologist. While you might see the school as just CMA-ing the situation, there is very little the administration can do.
      I speak from personal experience. I have seen what public universities have to go through to legally remove students from classes and, even more difficult, from campus. It is not easy to balance the rights of the troubled student with the rights of the other students and the instructors. And then there are litigious parents everywhere who pressure schools to keep their children enrolled because they are no longer able to deal with their children’s mental issues (and there also parents who work with the universities because they know better than anyone else the difficulties their children have–parents have no more legal authority over their adult children than schools do, and many of these parents are often happy to help schools protect their children and the other students).
      I agree that there is a great need for schools to do all they can, but there are very limited resources at schools, especially community colleges where there are more students who are on the academic edge and who have a far greater chance of dealing issues that can be destructive. In just my two first-year classes this last semester, I had four students who I had to walk over to the counseling center because they were in such a state of emotional distress (sexual assault, suicide of a best friend, death of a father, and one who could not even talk about his situation).
      I teach at an institution that has some 13,000 students, and we have just 10 psychologists who work in the center. These are truly amazing professionals, but there are not enough of them to help everyone who needs help.
      It is fun to blame lazy state workers, but sometimes there are not people to blame; there are just situations created by finite resources and societal priorities.
      (I am not saying anything about the BATF since I have no knowledge of what they did/did not do, nor do I have any idea of what they should have done).

      • “It is one thing to mandate that he be evaluated before returning to school, but what authority would the school have to do more than that?”

        School requested his presence for the disciplinary hearing. He choose not to go and make his case. He was expelled. They could also have mandated he visit the school psychologist as a requirement from not be expelled. They have that authority. True he may not have gone, but they should have used such readily available resources to their advantage had he gone. Besides, they had plenty of evidence from campus police to file a restraining order already. Its also good CYA as any student expelled wrongfully can sue in court (as you mention).

        BTW – I’m not suggesting universities/colleges have unlimited resources. I know they do not. But clearly they should have followed through in some way. Restraining orders aren’t a fix-all either, but they do start a legal paper trail. And ii’s just about immediately entered into the NCIS system (without going through the mental health adjudication process).

        Plenty of blame to go around as has been mentioned. His parents, campus police, his girl-friend, administration, etc. Yet nobody decided to do anything except the bare minimum. Kick the time bomb out then its no longer our problem. Consider the restraining order might just have been the final straw to wake up his parents (and others) to help this guy. Maybe that’s just too simple, but its better then what was done; which was little.

  2. the official accounts of most of these “lone-nut-gun” massacres are highly dubious!

    i don’t know enough abt the Loughner incident to say for certain if this is the case wrt that particular incident but one characteristic of a “false-flag psy-op” is that “the patsy” is “waiting in the wings”, ready to go….in direct contradiction to most police inquiries where it takes a considerable amount of time to gather evidence abt a suspect!

    on the basis of the very large n° of highly dubious “gun massacres” (Dunblane, the Port Arthur massacre, Columbine, Viriginia Tech’ &c), it would seem reasonable to draw an inference that the recent Tuscon incident is also highly dubious!

    “lone nut gun massacres” are NOT a valid basis to frame gun laws… the disastrous experience in Australia has clearly demonstrated!…..

  3. This was a senseless tragedy that never should have happened. I agree that this should be a conversation about mental health access and normalization rather than specific characteristics of the firearm he used.

    Just to play devil’s advocate: Would you suggest, based on the evaluation of the school, that a federal agency act to confiscate an private citizen’s firearms, without him actually committing any crime? Or force him into state-sponsored therapy? Won’t that dissuade other people with mental health issues from seeking help? What precise criteria do we use to determine who is “sane” enough to keep their gun rights?

    Part of living in a free society involves accepting the risks that a free society entails. So when a lone crazy person (or group of crazy people) do something crazy, you grieve and try to learn from it, but it doesn’t always mean there is something “to DO about it”. You don’t go create the TSA, you don’t start instituting mental competency tests for firearms ownership, you don’t asininely ban specific characteristics of firearms. In this case, it sounds like we should increase the availability of mental health professionals for students and young people, and train educators to encourage at-risk students to use them.

    Many of the people here are against background checks/NICS (aside from criminal record checks), yet you deride the ATF for not conducting a more thorough one?

    • IF we are to add a mental health component to the NCIS system, and I don’t think we should, it must be clearly defined. With an appeal’s process. The more important point here: the Loughner attack was a failure of people more than the system.

      People knew Loughner was a danger and did nothing about it. Lest we forget, the first line of defense were his parents. The school (including the campus cops) was the second. The ATF and the Sheriff’s office (BTW) were the third. The gun dealer and ammo sellers were the fourth (one Wal-Mart guy refused to sell Loughner ammo). Giffords’ [non-existent] security was the fifth. Armed/unarmed citizens were the seventh.

      If Loughner had been committed to a mental institution there would have been no problem with guns. One assumes.

      • I agree- and you can’t legislate behavior. It can be hard for people to do the right thing, especially when it’s uncomfortable. Unfortunately the pervasive bureaucracy and “authority” makes everyone think that it’s someone else’s responsibility.

  4. I’ve had recent experience assisting a college age student as he worked through some serious depression/suicide issues. He was in a public university in Florida and although they paid lip service to the mental health of their students they were not equipped either administratively or professionally to give this young man any substantive help. I know that my personal communications to university administrators seeking counseling attention for this person got passed around and there was no proactivity on the part of the school’s counseling staff. With great effort I convinced the young man (with no medical insurance, btw) to make his own appointment with the school counselors, but when the appointment time came, the counselor cancelled due to a last minute conflict. The kid eventually went out of pocket to seek off-campus help.

    So, I’m not surprised that this school in Arizona was not equipped or able to effectively help or at least neutralize Jared Loughner. My personal experience and stories like Loughner are the primary reasons that I am behind some form of guaranteed health care for 18-25 year olds.

    My experience also cements for me the illogic of the extended magazine attack. The size of Loughner’s magazine is such a minor variable in the atrocity that he perpetrated.

  5. Loughner probably invented the whole Gunwalker concept for BATFE. Only a complete psycho could have come up with that bad of a cluster-f^ck.

  6. Ah, the blame game continues. Local police, ATF, Pima College, the list goes on.

    What we/you fail to recognize is all the events in this lads life that lead up to the boiling point. And all the opportunities that his parents may have had to prevent the hysteria in his head.

    Your argument isn’t any different than the liberal media – who is notorious for playing the blame game. Take a deep breath, TTAG, and look inside that home environment and I think you’ll see the answer.


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