Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jared Loughner - Too Crazy for College But Not Too Crazy To Buy A Gun

22-year-old Jared Loughner has been arrested and charged with five federal criminal counts, two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, in the Tucson, Arizona shooting that wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

Loughner lives at home with his parents. A review of his criminal record shows only a few, minor infractions. He was arrested in 2007 for possessing drug paraphenalia, a case that was later dismissed, he was cited for running a stop sign, and in 2008 had a "local, non-criminal charge" that was also later dismissed.

His time at Pima Community College tells a different story. In 2010 he had multiple run-ins with the campus police after causing disruptions in the classroom and the library. He responded by posting a YouTube video declaring that the college was illegal under the U.S. Constitution. Ultimately, the college suspended him and said he couldn't come back until he got a mental-health clearance and proved he wasn't a danger to himself and others.

On November 30th, Loughner walked into the Sportsman's Warehouse in Tucson and legally purchased a Glock 19 semiautomatic handgun. Because Loughner had no criminal record and had never been committed against his will to a mental institution had no problem passing the instant background check. Arizona is one of three states that has no permitting requirements for carrying a concealed weapon, he could, therefore, legally carry the gun into the Safeway parking lot on Saturday.

Loughner loaded the Glock with an extended magazine that is capable of holding up to 33 rounds of ammunition. These high-capacity magazines had been banned before Congress allowed the federal assault weapons ban to expire in 2004.

He opened fire on a gathering of people who had come to greet Congresswoman Giffords. In a matter of seconds Loughner killed six people and injured 13 more. He shot the Congresswoman once in the head, "through and through." The bullet went through her brain "from back to front."

Loughner emptied the extended magazine into the crowd. As he went to reload his gun a middle-aged woman grappled the ammunition away from him and two men jumped on him and wrestled him down.

Lawmakers are rethinking security practices in the aftermath of the shooting. What they should be rethinking is the easy access to guns that pervades this country. What kind of system is this where Loughner was found too crazy to attend college but not too crazy to buy a gun?