SECOND AMENDMENT: The Existence Of Mental Illness Doesn’t NEGATE The Rights Of Everyday Citizens

Here’s the latest on what we know about the shooter in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Estaban Santiago, the 26-year-old airline passenger accused of shooting up a baggage claim area at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport Friday, leaving five dead and eight injured, visited the FBI Anchorage field office and told officers he was being forced to watch ISIS videos, law enforcement sources told Fox News.

The visit took place last November. The sources said Santiago told agents that US intelligence had infiltrated his mind and were forcing him to watch ISIS propaganda videos.

In addition, the sources told Fox that Santiago appeared agitated and incoherent during that interview, clearly indicating he was suffering from some kind of mental condition.
After the contact with Santiago, the FBI called local authorities who took custody of him and brought him to a local hospital for a welfare check.

His brother said he had been receiving psychological treatment recently, according to the Associated Press.

Sadly, this incident is becoming more common. And no, I for one will never get to the point where I’m using the word “accustomed” when describing how I feel about this level of horror.

Of the many pontifications coming out of this terrible incident, one we know we’re going to hear surrounds mental illness; clearly, Santiago is a disturbed man. However, the bad news is: there isn’t a way to peg someone as psychologically unfit to own, carry, or transport a firearm that doesn’t automatically violate his Second, Fourth, and Fifteenth Amendment rights.

I can hear the objections, some from people close to me, going so far as to assume I myself am mental, and perhaps accuse me of being okay with people being gunned down. I shouldn’t have to say this, but here goes: I am deeply saddened by the loss of these innocent people. Having worked in the firearms industry, I experienced mental illness firsthand when I assisted the sale of a Glock 17 (9mm) to a woman who said she was finally buying a gun because her husband was traveling a lot, and thought she needed protection in the home. I had a nice conversation with her, showed her a few things about the gun, and watched her walk out the door. About 12 hours later, she shot and killed herself and her two sons. This incident shook me up, but the truth is there was nothing stamped on her forehead saying, “I’m in real trouble. Please stop me from hurting myself and others.” Nor, we can safely assume, did Santiago similarly display or forecast his intention.

Sensible people know that if a giant magnet were to hover over the United States and suck up all the guns, the very next day more would pop up in virtually every corner of the country. Guns are not difficult to acquire, even if every gun were suddenly illegal to possess, and they are increasingly easier to manufacture on your own.

So we must be equally honest with ourselves regarding mental illness, and admit that if someone is mentally ill and intent on doing harm –- even for a brief period of time — that person will find a way and will, for the most part, not tell anyone ahead of time. The subjective nature of mental illness and what qualifies as a danger to oneself or others prevent us from enacting any draconian law intended on protecting the civil society. We certainly don’t accept murder of any motivation, and should we do what we can to help those suffering from relationship, work, or other issues. But we must not create a larger problem of gun confiscation without due process.

God bless the innocent victims of Fort Lauderdale.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk Untitled via photopin (license)

Share if you agree the mental illness problem doesn’t overrule the Second Amendment.

About the author: Michael Cummings

Michael A. Cummings has a Bachelors in Business Management from St. John's University in Collegeville, MN, and a Masters in Rhetoric & Composition from Northern Arizona University. He has worked as a department store Loss Prevention Officer, bank auditor, textbook store manager, Chinese food delivery man, and technology salesman. Cummings wrote position pieces for the 2010 Trevor Drown for US Senate (AR) and 2012 Joe Coors for Congress (CO) campaigns.

View all articles by Michael Cummings

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