Isla Vista Murders: What new laws, what new lessons?
Elliot Rodger’s story is not one of an untreated, mentally ill, white mass-killer who illegally acquired fully automatic “assault weapons.” This mixed white and Asian 22-year-old bought his firearms legally, did not use a long-arm or “high-capacity” weapo,n and had been in therapy since the age of 8. Half his murder victims were killed by knife. Several of the injured were run over by Rodger’s car.
None of the mental health professionals apparently felt that Rodger was a danger to himself or others. The police had recently conducted a welfare check on him at the request of his family. Rodger persuaded the police that he was fine.
In the media coverage of the Isla Vista, California, murdering rampage, one angle seems conspicuously absent. Few in the media describe the killings as a “hate crime.” Determining what is and is not a crime motivated by “hate” has always seemed bizarre, particularly given how the term seems selectively applied. A Hispanic, for example, could, until recently, be a “hate crime” victim — but not a perp. Government hate crime stats counted Hispanic perps — but not victims — as “white,” thus inflating the number of hate crimes committed by “whites.”
The Isla Vista murderer has a white father and Chinese mother. In his 140-page “manifesto,” Rodger spells out exactly whom he hates — “fully white” people: “I realized, with some horror, that I wasn’t ‘cool’ at all. I had a dorky hairstyle, I wore plain and uncool clothing, and I was shy and unpopular. On top of this was the feeling that I was different because I am of mixed race. I am half white, half Asian, and this made me different from the normal fully-white kids that I was trying to fit in with.”
At the age of 8, he talked his parents into letting him dye his hair blonde. The hairdresser, however, said he was too young, and would only bleach the top. Two years later, Rodger tried again: “I was eager to re-bleach my hair to a fully blonde color, after the disastrous failure of my previous attempt. This time, (my stepmother) took me to the right salon, and they gave me a short haircut and bleached all of my hair blonde. When I looked at myself in the mirrior (sic), I felt an intense level of satisfaction.”
What’s more disturbing — that a child, at age 8, wants to dye his hair to be a different race or that his parents let him do it?
Rodger also wrote racist postings on PuaHate, a misogynist hate site for men who dislike “pickup artists” and consider them manipulative hucksters who score attractive women over more deserving people like Rodger. Last January, he posted this:
“Today I drove through the area near my college and saw some things that were extremely rage-inducing.
“I passed by this restaurant and I saw this black guy chilling with 4 hot white girls. He didn’t even look good.
“Then later on in the day I was shopping at Trader Joe’s and saw an Indian guy with 2 above average White Girls!!!
“What rage-inducing sights did you guys see today? Don’t you just hate seeing these things when you go out? It just makes you want to quit life.”
A murder victim’s anguished father blamed “craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.” This father, of course, is in deep pain. The desire to blame something or someone is understandable. And, yes, mental health care experts should advise us on warning signs and encourage us to be proactive in urging those who need help to get it.
But while the experts play Sigmund Freud, may we protect ourselves — evening the odds a little in favor of the good guys? This spree lasted 10 minutes, and police counted nearly a dozen crime scenes.
Nearly 40 states allow people — on a “shall issue” basis — to carry a concealed weapon, something that might have minimized the Isla Vista carnage. But California is not a “shall issue” state.
California has some of the most stringent “gun control” laws in the country, including the elimination of the so-called “gun-show loophole” and limiting handgun purchases to one per month. All transactions require a background check — even a private sale between two police officers. A new law requires “traceable micro-stamping” for all new semi-automatic handguns.
Still the NRA gets blamed — not the gun-free zones, not the inability of citizens to protect themselves and certainly not the shooter. Blaming the NRA or “craven politicians” won’t stop bad guys — in this case, one filled with racial hatred — from doing bad things. The old line still rings true: The best and most sure way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host.