Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018
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Editorials

Waffle House shooter marks new low in American gun culture

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    Law enforcement officials work the scene of a fatal shooting at a Waffle House in the Antioch neighborhood of Nashville, Tenn., on Sunday.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    James Shaw Jr., shows his hand that was injured when he disarmed a shooter inside a Waffle House on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    In this photo released by the Metro Nashville Police Department, Travis Reinking sits in a police car after being arrested in Nashville, Tenn., on Monday. Police said Reinking opened fire at a Waffle House early Sunday, killing at least four people.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

It sounds like a sick joke: A naked man walks into a Waffle House carrying an AR-15 …

Except that this naked man killed four and wounded more.

How crazy does it have to get?

KEITH BURRIS: Do something

Travis Reinking, 29, on early Sunday morning killed four young people at a Nashville Waffle House before his assault-style rifle either jammed or the clip was empty. A brave customer, named James Shaw, Jr., disarmed him in a scuffle. The shooter fled wearing nothing but a coat, which he shed. He apparently later acquired some pants.

Good grief. Our culture sometimes seems to be out of control.

What happened to “law and order”?

Sometimes, it takes a particularly disgraceful and absurd act to shame and embarrass us all into action.

Hopefully, the naked Waffle House shooter will bring some shame on those who think the Second Amendment gives everyone, including unstable kids, the right to own an AR-15.

The Constitution does not grant such an absolute and silly right.

And there is much we can do to take back our streets, churches, theaters, malls, campuses, and restaurants — starting with better enforcement of the laws we have. The last three or four incidents of mass gun violence in America have all involved law enforcement dropping the ball.

Mr. Reinking, for example, has police records in Tennessee, Illinois, and Washington, D.C.

U.S. Secret Service agents arrested him last July for being in a restricted area near the White House.

In 2016, Mr. Reinking had a court-ordered mental evaluation after he was found in a parking lot in Illinois claiming that Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone.

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James Shaw Jr., shows his hand that was injured when he disarmed a shooter inside a Waffle House on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

Elsewhere in Illinois, he jumped into a community pool wearing underwear and a pink woman’s coat. He was believed to have an AR-15 in the trunk of his car. No charges were filed.

But Illinois state police revoked Mr. Reinking’s state firearms card and four guns were then taken from him, including the AR-15 used in Sunday’s shooting, as well as a handgun.

Mr. Reinking’s father was allowed to retake possession of the guns on the promise that he would “keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis.”

The father apparently returned the guns to the son.

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Meanwhile, the gun industry and professional gun rights advocates are so stubborn in defense of the purported Constitutional right to own military-style weapons that the rest of us may be pushed increasingly into paranoid patterns of living. We are going to have to pay for reinforced doors and windows, sophisticated locks, extra security personnel, and camera systems, and watch as innocent people are mowed down in previously safe, common, public spaces. And we can only hope none of the innocents are our friends or family.

Mr. Shaw said he was no hero, just a man trying to survive. But he grabbed the hot barrel of the weapon from the shooter, who then turned and fled.

That sounds like heroism to most of us.

If only members of Congress had an equal measure of moral courage.

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