Santa Barbara County (California) Sheriff Bill Brown has been hammered in recent days due to the spree killing last Friday in Isla Vista that left six victims dead and 13 wounded before the shooter took his own life.
Brown’s department had failed to identify the deeply deranged killer as a threat when they conducted a “welfare check” on the killer a number of weeks prior to the attack, and didn’t search his apartment or cross check his name against California’s gun registry, or take seriously his YouTube videos that showed clear mental instability that seem to have been the reason the welfare check was requested.
Brown has also come under fire for his strict anti-concealed carry policy, which essentially turned Santa Barbara County into a large “gun free zone” with only 53 issued permits for the entire county.
Perhaps that wave of criticism is why the SBSD grossly overreacted to a negligent discharge on Tuesday:
On Tuesday, deputies were called about 2:30 p.m. to an apartment in the 6500 block of Pardall Road after a resident reported a bullet being fired into their home, the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. Deputies found that the bullet had been shot through the wall from a connecting apartment, narrowly missing the resident.
Deputies went next door and questioned 21-year-old Kevin Tym, who allegedly admitted that he was playing with his legally-owned Glock 17 and accidentally fired off a 9mm round.
During a search of his apartment, deputies found and seized seven firearms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, including a high-capacity assault rifle magazine.
All of the firearms were legally owned by Tym, deputies said.
If Mr. Tym admitted that he was indeed “playing” with a loaded Glock 17 and exhibited signs of reckless behavior, then perhaps the deputies were justified in confiscating that firearm. I have to wonder, however, if that claim is merely a journalist’s interpretation of a flippant claim made by a department spokesperson who wasn’t on the scene since it wasn’t presented as a quote. The video report that accompanied the article simply stated that the gun “went off…by mistake,” which is a very different, much less loaded claim.
If the reality is instead that Mr. Tym had a more typical negligent discharge and snagged the trigger on something, or inadvertently pulled the trigger but wasn’t “playing around”—as law enforcement officers seem to do on a shockingly regular basis—then confiscating all of his firearms and ammunition seems like a gross overreaction.
Instead, it comes across as a weak after-the-fact attempt to account for failing to stop the spree killer that struck the same area just days before. A “Hey, look! This time we’ll protect you!” overreaction well after the fact doesn’t reassure anyone of the department’s competence.
Recognizing that citizens have a right to defend their own lives, by issuing more than a paltry 53 concealed weapons permits to an entire county and acting like the department actually trusts the citizens to act as equals might be a nice start.