AP Photo/Rudy Gutierrez
Earlier today, I made the comment about there being little evidence that red flag laws would have helped to prevent the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. I fully expect anti-gun voices to push back on that comment with the story that the shooter’s mother contacted police about her son.
Because, well, it looks like she did.
The El Paso shooting suspect’s mother called the Allen, Texas, Police Department weeks before the shooting because she was concerned about her son owning an “AK” type firearm, lawyers for the family confirmed to CNN.The mother contacted police because she was worried about her son owning the weapon given his age, maturity level and lack of experience handling such a firearm, attorneys Chris Ayres and R. Jack Ayres said.During the call, the mother was transferred to a public safety officer who told her that — based on her description of the situation — her son, 21, was legally allowed to purchase the weapon, the attorneys said. The mother did not provide her name or her son’s name, and police did not seek any additional information from her before the call concluded, they added.It is not known whether the gun the mother inquired about is the weapon used in the attack.Police initially were unable to confirm the call. But on Thursday, after CNN’s story published, police reviewed phone records and found that on June 27 a call had come in from a concerned mother.Allen Police Sgt. Jon Felty said a public safety officer, who is not a sworn police officer, answered the mother’s questions about her son’s firearms possession and ownership at age 21. He said the mother was concerned that her son didn’t have any firearm safety training and didn’t have the emotional or intellectual maturity to own an ‘AK’ type firearm.The public safety officer asked the mother twice whether her son was suicidal or had threatened any other persons, which she indicated was not the case, according to Felty.
So, in other words, she called the police because she was freaked that her kid had a gun.
Red flag order, right?
Not really. As noted in the last paragraph quoted, she didn’t think he was suicidal or that he had any intentions of hurting someone else. She had no evidence that he was actually a threat.
Even in a world with red flag laws, thinking someone shouldn’t own a gun isn’t quite enough. You have to at least claim to see them as a threat to themselves or others. While one of the key issues with red flag laws is the low bar required to justify taking someone’s guns, they’re not that low.
Instead, the mother was just sort of freaked out that her kid had a gun.
Now, in this case, those concerns turned out to be justified. Yet how many times to mothers make similar calls throughout the country, only it turns out to be nothing? Overprotective mothers who don’t think their kids are old enough or mature enough to make their own decisions are a thing, after all. One mother seeming to be right is no excuse to empower legions of others.
Besides, it’s important to remember that dear old Mom didn’t think her son was a threat.
So, yet again, evidence that a red flag law wouldn’t have done jack to stop El Paso.