Police claim that conflicting regulations prevented them from taking away an AR-15 used by Orlando Harris in a recent deadly rampage. The mother of the St. Louis school shooter begged responding officers to take it away from her dangerously unstable son, a full nine days before preventable tragedy happened. They wouldn’t do it.
Police blame conservative law
Police aren’t blaming liberals for tying their hands. This time, they say deplorable Second Amendment supporters are at fault. Legal experts say that’s not true.
Though this situation does underscore how bad things can go wrong when there is confusion and conflict between laws. As a direct result of legal and political uncertainty, there were deadly consequences.
It all started when Police were called out to the Harris home on October 15. That was a full nine days before Orlando “went on a shooting rampage inside a St. Louis high school.” His mom called 911, telling them she wanted his rifle out of her home, “citing her son’s mental health struggles.” That wasn’t the first time cops were called to that same address.
The Missouri Republican party made it easier for people like this to get guns, and made it harder for police to prevent mass ahootings like this one.
It isn’t pro-life. It’s literally pro-death. https://t.co/IghRz3f6DK
— T in KC (@guardianogeloso) October 25, 2022
They “had also made multiple mental health-related trips to Harris’ home.” Five times in two years. “including for a ‘crisis response,’ a “violent and/or weapon‘ call and a suicide attempt.” On this latest visit, they were clearly informed that the 19-year-old “failed a federal background check when he tried to buy a weapon from a local dealer.” They let him keep it anyway.
Instead of safely taking possession of the AR-15 until Mr. Harris could sort out his legal rights to it in court, St. Louis police let him use it to shoot up Central Visual and Performing Arts and Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience.
That specific weapon left two people dead and seven others injured. The problem, they insist, is “a controversial new law in Missouri that claims state statutes supersede federal law when it comes to gun possession.”
Existing state law
As explained by police Sargent Charles Wall in an official, written statement, “It is our belief that under existing state law SLMPD would have no authority to seize the firearm in question.”
Experts tend to take the opposite position, as favored by Missouri Governor Mike Parson. “The state Legislature granted courts some control over gun possession” above and beyond the disputed rule, “when an individual suffers from a mental health condition.”
Federal law makes it crystal clear that Orlando was not supposed to have a gun. State law, police claim. Overrides it. Under federal law, if a person has been “involuntarily committed” to a mental institution, “they may not buy or possess a gun.” He was “committed,” the family insists. That’s why he flunked the background check when he tried to buy a similar weapon from a licensed dealer in St. Charles on October 8.
The gunman was identified as Orlando Harris, 19, a recent graduate of the school. One survivor heard him say he was 'tired of everybody' in the school. https://t.co/9VPnfq00r5
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch (@stltoday) October 25, 2022
He just went to a private party who doesn’t require checks. Under Missouri law, just being committed isn’t a good enough reason to grab your gun. You also have to be declared “incompetent.” When officers told that to the mom, she went through the roof. As a compromise, “the gun was transferred to a third person, known to the family.” He somehow managed to get it back.
The Second Amendment Preservation Act claims state law supersedes federal law on issues of gun ownership. Experts say that protection goes away because having him committed by a judge was essentially the same as declaring him incompetent. “If a person has been adjudicated in front of a judge and committed to a mental health facility, they cannot purchase guns and they cannot possess them,” relates Kevin Jamison, an attorney who specializes in firearm law.
“This kid did seem to have some mental health problems, and his family could certainly have committed him to a mental health facility by bringing action in probate court.” There is “nothing in the Second Amendment Preservation Act that would have prevented local police from removing a gun from the shooter. It deals exclusively with prohibiting the federal government from enforcing gun laws in Missouri.“