Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool LIV

Today I saw a dear friend arrested. Several years ago, he retired from a long and honorable career in the Department of Corrections. Law enforcement officers and first responders suffer from a higher incidence of depression and other mental illness such as PTSD than the societal average. This is because their job is so stressful and it goes on for as long as they are in their career. Three years ago my buddy had a psychotic episode where he detached from reality, lost hope and despaired, and sometimes spoke of ending his life. He never threatened anybody nor spoke of using his guns.

On a couple of occasions the police were called to his home by his family due to their fearing for his life. On at least one of those occasions a was "5150-ed" (put on an involuntary psychiatric hold) and his guns shipped out to other family and friends. Pursuant to WELFARE AND INSTITUTIONS CODESECTION 8100-8108 he became prohibited from possessing any firearm, either his own or another person's firearm in his private life or in the course of employment. Consequently, he lost his job as a armed security guard. Not long after all this he returned to normal and has been fine for the three years since.

Within a year or so of those events, he felt it was ridiculous for him to not be able to exercise his Second Amendment rights. Therefore, he got his guns back from family and friends. I felt at the time and still feel that was a mistake on multiple levels. I felt and still feel that as a Christian, he ought to have simply obeyed the laws of the land where they didn't force him to go against the word of God. Also, he simply needed to be patient more than he needed those guns back. In two more years he would have been good to go. Finally, given we do not know what triggered his meltdown, as far as we know it could happen again. In that case, how could it have been good for him to get his guns back prematurely?

Fast-forward to today and my friend was paid an unexpected visit by the California Department of Justice (DOJ). Two or three officers arrived to conduct a check of his compliance with W & I 8100-8108. Upon finding his full complement of weapons and ammo they seized it all and arrested him. I watched him hauled off in handcuffs. My friend, retired LE officer and law-abiding citizen. I was disturbed by this and on a number of levels.

I was frustrated with my friend for foolishly failing to comply with a law that was ultimately designed with the public good (including his own) in mind. He ought to have waited to get his guns and ammo back when his ban ended. I was also frustrated with his not moving them back out of the house lately as he had noted a similar sweep as caught up him was recently reported in the local media in Santa Barbara County. If he was so worried about it (and he was) then he ought to have acted decisively. I can't conscion ambivalence and wish-washiness.

However, the more hours he spent being processed at the county jailhouse and the more I thought about the big picture, I increasingly became aware that despite my friend's foolishness, he was also being F-ed in the A by the system. A single one-size-fits-all law was being applied to a situation to which it did not well-fit. Surely there had to be more significant threats to the common weal than my friend. This began to feel like oppression and repression of a gun owner and a slap in the face to an honorable officer of the law, now in retirement. And it does seem to be a bit of a gun-grab by a Liberal-minded government bureaucracy.

I'm aware that family murder-suicides are a bigger problem than school and workplace shootings and the powers that be must cover their arses. However, this particular law and policy seems excessive and misguided. My honorable friend now must appear before a judge and face a fine. He was fortunate that he found favor with the DOJ officers who arrested him. They bent over backwards to go as easy on him as they could, filing only misdemeanor charges. However, I'm disturbed that there could have been felony charges. Something stinks in California.

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