There were plenty of warning signs about Travis Reinking. He once told police that music superstar Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking into his phone. Another time, he barged into a community pool, jumping into the water wearing a woman’s pink housecoat and challenging lifeguards to a fight. Then there was his arrest last summer by the Secret Service for breaching White House security because he wanted to meet with the president.
Yet there he allegedly was early Sunday morning at a Waffle House outside Nashville in possession of an assault-style rifle that authorities say was used to kill four people and wound several others. That the AR-15 semiautomatic, along with three other guns, had once been confiscated from him by Illinois authorities who recognized the danger only compounds the failure of policies that make it far too easy to get guns. And that allow weapons designed for war to become everyday commodities.
The same type of weapon was used at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed; it was used in the 2017 slaughter of 25 worshipers at a Texas church; it was part of the arsenal used by the Las Vegas gunman who killed 58 and the shooter who killed 49 at an Orlando nightclub. These aren’t weapons needed for self-defense or hunting.
That they are easy to acquire is made obvious by the ease and speed with which Reinking managed to get his guns back. Illinois authorities transferred ownership of the rifle and other weapons to Reinking’s father. They said they did so because the father had a legal claim and promised to keep them away from his son.
It is ludicrous that law and process would not give law enforcement officials more authority to keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a danger. There is no law in Tennessee, where Reinking moved from Illinois, that would have barred him from owning guns.
Better yet: Voters should elect a Congress that will undertake comprehensive gun law reform. Reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons is a must. So, too, is restricting magazine capacity. That the shooter at the Waffle House apparently stopped to reload gave a quick-thinking patron, James Shaw Jr., the chance to disarm him, thus saving countless lives.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE WASHINGTON POST