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After the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, then-Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, evaded calls for banning weapons of war. But he had other ideas. The "more realistic discussion," Rogers said, is "how do we target people with mental illness who use firearms?"
Tightening the gun laws would seem a lot easier and less intrusive than psychoanalyzing everyone with access to a weapon. But to address Rogers' point following the recent mass murder at a suburban Detroit high school, the question might be, "How do we with target the adults who hand powerful firearms to children with mental illness?"
The parents of Ethan Crumbley presented their clearly troubled 15-year-old with a high-powered weapon. He is charged with using the semiautomatic handgun to murder four students at Oxford High School.
This is hardly the first case of parents enabling a sick child to act on his violent fantasies. Nancy Lanza, the mother of the 20-year-old who killed 27 innocents at the Connecticut elementary school, left an unsecured Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle at her tidy house. Nancy was Adam Lanza's first victim.
Laurel Harper had previously placed her son Christopher in a psychiatric hospital, but that did not deter her from keeping unsecured guns at their home. Christopher brought six of them to his 2015 rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Nine students died.
Both Nancy Lanza and Laurel Harper were divorced women left to single-handedly deal with children tortured by inner demons. But rather than steer their sons away from the gun culture, they both dove into it.
Nancy would go to bars at night and brag about all the guns she kept at home. Laurel, a nurse, spent long hours on forums, her subjects alternating between her son's mental illness and her gun collection.
"I keep two full mags in my Glock case," Laurel swaggered online. "And the ARs & AKs (semiautomatics) all have loaded mags." She criticized "lame states" that put limits on loaded firearms in the home.
Concerning disregard for the lives of others, no one would beat James and Jennifer Crumbley. The school called them in after Ethan was found having drawn pictures of a gun, a bullet and bloody figure with the words "the thoughts won't stop" and "help me."
They came in but refused to take Ethan home. They wanted to get back to their jobs.
The day before, the school informed the parents that their son was found searching online for ammunition. Jennifer responded by sending an insanely supportive text to Ethan: "LOL, I'm not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught."
When these details emerged, the parents took off to hide from getting caught. They now face four counts each of involuntary manslaughter.
The central focus of the Michigan horror has rightly moved from a mentally ill high schooler to his socially deviant parents. Which leads to these two questions:
Aren't parents who keep loaded weapons in a home shared by a disturbed child with violent obsessions themselves mentally twisted? And what could be done about them?
A woman had reportedly told investigators in Connecticut that she overheard Adam Lanza say he planned to kill his mother and children at the elementary school. She even called the local police. But since Nancy Lanza, not Adam, owned the weapons, the police couldn't take them away.
If police had removed arms from adults without criminal records, the gun rights fanatics would have exploded with outrage. How dare you go after these noble defenders of the Second Amendment?
Besides, it's easy to identify mentally ill people who use firearms, right? It's certainly easy once the massacre is over.
Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at email@example.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
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Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
A former D.C. National Guard official blasted the Pentagon inspector general’s report on the military’s response to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and directly accused two top generals of lying about their role in the delays deploying the National Guard that day. Previously, the former commander of the D.C. National Guard—who now serves as the House sergeant-at-arms—had called for the retraction of the same inspector general’s report.
William Walker, who was the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard on January 6, and Col. Earl Matthews, who was then Walker’s top attorney, both say that the Pentagon’s claims about when Walker was cleared to deploy troops to the Capitol are flatly false. Matthews laid out his rebuttal of the inspector general’s report in a 36-page memo to the January 6 House select committee, again saying, as has been widely reported since January, that Gen. Charles Flynn and Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt, both senior Army officials, opposed a National Guard deployment in a 2:30 p.m. phone call, and calling both men “absolute and unmitigated liars” for their denials that they did so.
National Guard officials say the Defense Department’s story about that 2:30 p.m. phone call has changed repeatedly, and at one point Piatt admitted that yes, he “may have expressed concern” about a National Guard deployment to the Capitol—something that Piatt then denied in a written response to the House Oversight Committee in June. Matthews described that denial as “false and misleading,” but used stronger words for Flynn’s claim that he “never expressed a concern about the visuals, image, or public perception of” such a deployment. That, Matthews wrote, was “outright perjury.”
The 2:30 p.m. call is a key step in the hours-long delay in responding to the bloody attack on the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump. It is incontrovertibly true that Walker did not at that point get permission to deploy the D.C. National Guard, but when he did get that permission is in dispute. According to the inspector general’s report, Walker was given permission in a 4:35 p.m. call with Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. Walker says that call did not happen, and that he did not get permission until 5:08 p.m. You would think that if there was a phone call, the Defense Department would have records of it, but, according to The Washington Post, the inspector general’s report cites “an anonymous Army official” in its conclusion that McCarthy gave Walker the go-ahead at 4:35 p.m.
In Senate testimony earlier this year, Robert Salesses, a top Pentagon official, initially said Walker got permission at 4:32 p.m. only to walk it back: “In fairness to General Walker, too, that’s when the [acting] secretary of defense made the decision—at 4:32,” Salesses said. “As General Walker has pointed out, because I’ve seen all the timelines, he was not told that until 5:08.”
Like Walker, Matthews fiercely disputes the 4:35 p.m. claim, calling it “an outrageous assertion … as insulting as it is false,” and saying that McCarthy himself had been “incommunicado or unreachable for most of the afternoon.”
Walker and Matthews both obviously have huge incentives to point the finger outside the D.C. National Guard, just as the Defense Department has huge incentives to point the finger away from itself. But we do know that multiple people have said Flynn and Piatt had the role in the 2:30 p.m. phone call that Matthews describes, and that the Army’s accounts of that call changed in the weeks following January 6. This is definitely an issue that requires further investigation, and the select committee had better be on it.