Chanting Points Memo: Editorial License

Over the weekend, the left’s chanting-points bots erupted on Twitter with the story of Christian Oberender’s arsenal.  As reported in the Strib by Paul McEnroe and Glenn Howatt (under the rather tabloid-y title “Murderous ‘monster’ acquires an arsenal”), it’s one of those stories that’s intended to put Second Amendment activists on the defensive.

It’s an ugly story, on its surface:

They knew the Delano house far too well. It was where Christian Philip Oberender, then 14 years old, had murdered his mother in a shotgun ambush in the family rec room in 1995.

Now, 18 years later, Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson was sending his deputies back to the home where Oberender still lives. Just two days earlier, Olson had scanned the day’s shift reports and froze when he tripped over Oberender’s name. A scan of a Facebook page then showed firearms spread out like a child’s trophies on a bed inside the home, along with notes about the Newtown, Conn., gunman who shot 20 children to death.

Long article short:  Oberender is nuts.  After “serving his time” for murdering his mother 18 years ago in a psych hospital, Oberender figured out how to skirt the system to get around federal and state gun laws to acquire a pretty significant arsenal (although the practiced eye notes that while the photographer staged the shot to highlight the AK47 and the “Tommy Gun”, most of the weapons on the table were  run-of-the-mill hunting a and plinking weapons, and the “Tommy Gun” is a low-powered .22 caliber replica that can’t fire full-automatic – which isn’t to say that we want him having any guns at all).

But look at the methods McEnroe and Howatt describe, used by the nutcase to outflank the system:

A Star Tribune review of state court records found case after case in which individuals deemed mentally ill in judicial proceedings later wound up in possession of guns and accused of violent crimes.

(Didja ever wonder what’d happen if the Star-Tribune turned all that “investigative” mojo toward looking into vote fraud claims?  I digress)

At least 84 people have been charged since 2000 with illegal gun possession or assault with a dangerous weapon even though they had previously been committed by a judge as mentally ill. Of that group, 29 were charged with multiple counts of weapons possession and nine were considered by a judge to be mentally ill and dangerous.

Additionally, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has more than 168,000 “suspense files” — records on Minnesotans who have been arrested since 1990 but whose files are so incomplete that the state can’t determine if they should have the right to buy guns.

“The system failed in this case,” Olson said in an interview. “We are having discussions with the BCA to make sure there aren’t similar things like this hanging out there.”

Now remember – this is the system the DFL fought to have remain in charge of issueing carry permits to the law-abiding citizen.

How did Christian Oberender succeed in obtaining a gun permit?

The answer lies in a combination of deceit on his part, failures in the state court system, and haphazard data collection by state agencies, according to interviews with law enforcement officials.

The article describes the process; to buy a handgun or “assault weapon” (or, at many retailers, any firearm at all) the purchaser needs to go to their police station and get a “permit to purchase”; it indicates the bearer has passed a background check involving a call to the NICS database and a look through state records.

No state permit is required to purchase a long rifle or a shotgun in Minnesota. Buyers going to a licensed retailer must pass a federal background check at the counter — but those records can also be incomplete because they are supplied to the FBI by state agencies.

Unmentioned in the report:  this particular gap in the data was supposed to have been fixed by the state ten years ago.  Language that would have required complete reporting of BCA data to the feds was in the “Stand Your Ground” bill that passed with a solid bipartisan majority last session, and that Governor Messinger Dayton vetoed in her his fit of bitchy partisan pique last spring.

While McEnroe and Howatt seem to try to stick to the facts, they’re hobbled by the fact that they have exactly one non-legislative anti-gun spokesperson in Minnesota in their rolodex.

You know who we’re talking about:

Minnesota’s gun laws don’t require an applicant to provide a fingerprint or a Social Security number to verify identity.

“This was one of our concerns during the ‘Conceal and Carry’ debate in Legislature 10 years ago and it was beaten down like everything else,” said Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota, a gun violence prevention organization.

As with all things Heather Martens says, it’s a lie.  “Citizens for a “Safer” Supine Minnesota” fought to keep the old, discretionary system of issuing carry permits – which required no standardized background check whatsoever, resulting in few permits going to qualified black males and plenty going to unstable white male felons with mental issues.  The anti-gunners wanted no carry permits; when that became inevitable, they wanted to load the bill down with poison pills (like making permit-holders public records, so the Strib could list their names for targeting).

If the anti-gunners had any useful ideas – and I don’t recall that they did – they got lost in the blizzard of legislative BS they inflicted on us.

Martens said Oberender’s case highlights the reluctance of lawmakers to tighten gun laws because they fear being accused of infringing on individual rights. “Public schoolteachers have to go through a complete background check, even including a fingerprint,” Martens said. “For buyers of assault weapons and pistols, law enforcement currently has only seven days to verify the person’s identity and criminal history — otherwise, a permit is automatically granted. We should at least allow police enough time to verify the person’sidentity.”

And in a perfect world, that’d be just fine – but we know that law-enforcement in DFL-dominated cities would abuse that prerogative, just as they always abuse every prerogative they have.

The orcs of the anti-gun movement have spent forty years abusing loopholes in gun laws to harass the law-abiding citizen; it should be  no surprise that when Real Americans do get to set the agenda, we’re careful to pre-empt that abuse.

At the BCA, a spokesperson said the agency’s database will catch closely matched names and aliases, but it would not snag a name like the one on Oberender’s application.

In Oberender’s case, the first glitch was that he simply transposed his first name and middle name on the gun permit application, apparently in an attempt to avoid recognition by the BCA’s database.

Additionally, when Oberender applied for his permit, records show, he lied about his mental health history, a move that triggered no red flag in the computers — the BCA’s system doesn’t contain any state commitment records of the mentally ill and dangerous.

So the bureaucracy isn’t set up to catch scofflaws and those who are determined to outflank the system.

So fix the system.  But here’s the glorious rub; Real Americans have taken control of most of the system.  We’ve set up laws to make it harder for you to abuse us via the system, and we’ve got the energy and the power to make it stick.

And notwithstanding all of that, it’s a matter of historical fact that all of the good ideas to keep guns out of the hands of the insane and the criminal – the background checks we currently have, including the NICS with its occasional imperfections – came from the right, and from the gun movement.  We’re the ones who’ve focused on making the system work for the  law-abiding, and against the criminal and the insane.

So here are the rules for the “new conversation on guns”; if you have an idea, bring it up; the burden is on you, the anti-gun orc, to come up with ideas that attack the problem and not the law-abiding citizen – to be better and smarter than your gun-grabber forebears.

The “new conversation on guns” will be a dialog.  We know you gun-grabbers hate that.


2 thoughts on “Chanting Points Memo: Editorial License

  1. “As with all things Heather Martens says, it’s a lie.”

    Wash, rinse, repeat…………Wash, rinse, repeat!!!

  2. The Oberender story asks as many questions as it answers. Since he applied and received a MN permit to purchase a handgun or “assault weapon,” he had to lie extensively to get it. OK. Criminals lie. I suppose I could use the ID of another and get one, too, if I were inelligible. Can’t really blame any component of “the system” for that.

    Was Oberender tried as an adult? Since he was 14 YOA when he did his deed, is it possible that these records were not readily available without court approval? Was he convicted of a crime, or just deemed mentally ill and sent to a facility under that premise? I do not believe that non-criminal incarceration requires fingerprinting. Particularly involving a 14 year-old “child.” I could be wrong, but it is possible.

    This is important since, even if gun purchase applicants were required to be printed, a set of fingerprints is only useful when compared to another set – from the scene of a crime, from a booking data base, or other official transaction that allowed for fingerprinting. Because of this, a set of prints is not the evidentiary gold standard that most think they are, without a comparison set. Otherwise, they are kept in-case a corresponding set with a valid ID attached enters the system at a later date. Then they can be matched up and the ID made.

    The MN permit application asks a number of identifying questions, including, previous home addresses going back 10 (or more-I forget) years. These local jurisdictions are/should be queried as to previous contacts. I’d think something like matricide ala shotgun would ring a bell somewhere.

    The form also requires contact with the MN Department of Human Services. They are checked for mental health contacts. I would think that a state committment for murder would stand out there, while a private-pay visit to the shrink for smoking cessation may not.

    I see a lot that’s missing from this story, and a lot of what’s missing could be due more to operator error than to a flawed system. Like with the Sandyhook tragedy, the media is running with a lot of incomplete data, choosing to verify those things that are helpful to their agenda without fact-checking. In my opinion, of course.

    Since we are allowed to claim disenfranchisement when asked to show identification at the polling place, can prospective gun buyers claim (and get the same degree of sympathy for) the same thing if asked to provide fingerprints to exercise their Second Amendment rights?

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