When Travis Reinking walked into the Nashville-area Waffle House in the predawn hours of Sunday morning, he was naked, except for a green jacket which he left at the scene after hero James Shaw, Jr. disarmed him. I mention Reinking’s bizarre apparel choice because it indicates the single most important factor in his crime, and the similar crimes committed in from Florida to California and back, madness. Not just his madness, but the madness of our societal response, or lack thereof.
Reinking, who as of this writing is still on the lam in his birthday suit, isn’t mildly unbalanced; he’s practically a walking Doors lyric. A naked guy who shoots up a Waffle House is hardly a new resident of crazy town. And given his recent sit downs with not only local, but state and federal law enforcement, he didn’t move there in secret. Reinking is the same rabid squirrel who got arrested last summer after trying to muscle his way past the Secret Service and into the White House. After that fool’s errand, he spent some quality time with the FBI, who then passed him off to the Tazewell County, Illinois, Sheriff’s Department. They, in turn, revoked his firearm license and confiscated his weapons before turning him over to his father. And his father gave him back the guns.
In order to open fire in the Waffle House, Reinking strolled past multiple laws, multiple law enforcement officers and a parent/guardian who obviously wavered between “disinterested” and “criminally negligent.” Two agencies of the Federal government had him, on at least one occasion, within shooting distance of the Oval Office. The locals in the Land of Lincoln, where gun laws are among the most restrictive in the nation, handed Travis’s weapons back to his old man, who handed them back to his son.
An individual known to be not only mentally ill, but violently so, strolled past every roadblock — short of outright national confiscation — we’ve been told to believe will stop horrors like the one which unfolded near Nashville. And for those of you who might respond by saying nationwide confiscation is the answer, I would point you east. Good luck telling the victims of the Bataclan theater massacre that they’re not dead, not to mention the hundreds of victims of monsters who reacted to gun bans by arming up with blades, bombs and box trucks to slaughter their victims.
Just like the attacks in Parkland, Charleston, Aurora and Columbine, the legal apparatus in place to keep guys like Travis Reinking, Dylann Roof, James Holmes, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from unleashing their inner demons on the rest of us failed at every level. It’s worth noting that the same legal apparatus — including some of the same agencies — also failed in their charge to prevent attacks like the ones in Orlando, San Bernardino, Fort Hood and Boston, among others. Whether the assailant has been radicalized by his imam or his imagination is as immaterial as the weapon they use to carry out their wishes. The real weapon each and every one of these killers has is the squirming mass between their ears. Until we address them, we’re wasting time and lives.
— Ben Crystal
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