It seems the perpetrator–John Russel Houser–of the horrific shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana last night was denied a gun permit in Georgia almost ten years ago. Not only that, but Houser was actually a candidate for an elected office. The Ledger-Enquirer–a Georgia-based publication located in Columbus–found that Mr. Houser, who was nicknamed "Rusty," was a longtime political activist, who helped defeat a school bond initiative and ran for tax commission. He withdrew from that race when he was charged with stealing his opponent's yard signs, according to the Enquirer. He was also denied a gun permit in 2006.
NBC News reported that Houser had been living in a Motel 6 in Phenix City, Alabama for weeks, with wigs, different license plates, and other disguises in his room. Authorities posit that he intended to “flee the scene.” There’s not enough evidence to suggest a motive at this time. Moreover, it was reported that Houser was “estranged” from his family. The Ledger-Enquirer later confirmed Houser as the shooter through a news release from Columbus State University, where it stated he obtained a degree in accounting in 1988:
Rusty Houser had a history here of political activism, fighting taxes and at one point running for office.
In 1994, Rusty Houser joined opponents who helped defeat a proposed bond issue for the school district. He accused the school district of punishing his wife, a school teacher, for his role in that effort. Years later he ran as a Republican for tax commission, but was charged for stealing an opponent’s yard signs and withdrew.
After a subsequent sales tax passed, Rusty Houser filed papers trying to get the Muscogee Superior Court to invalidate the election. He had been admitted to practice law in Alabama after attending an unaccredited night law school.
Superior Court Judge and former Columbus Mayor Bobby Peters remembered Houser's combative attitude: "He came to many city council meetings and he was in tune with a lot of issues that were going on in the community. He was very outspoken, highly intelligent, really didn't trust government and anything about government.
Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said Houser in 2006 was denied a pistol permit, and was served eviction papers March 25, 2014, while living on 32nd Street in Phenix City.
Columbus State University in a news release said a John Russel Houser born in 1955 graduated with a degree in accounting a 1988. "Mr. Houser is apparently the man that police have identified as the suspect in the Louisiana movie theater shooting," the release said, adding its last address for Houser was in Phenix City.
Yahoo! News is also reporting that Houser was a member of the Tea Party. Yet, this should be a friendly reminder to everyone that there are plenty of people who describe themselves as such, who don’t shoot up theaters and kill innocent people. There are plenty of Tea Party supporters who are distrustful of government and don’t commit mass shootings.
Sadly, I suspect from the liberal blogosphere and the news media that we will–again–discuss gun control policies that will never become law, and how radical the Tea Party has become in American politics. Because believing in a smaller government, with fewer taxes, that respects the Constitution is radical or something.
Nevertheless, what Houser did was a senseless act that took the lives of two people and injured many more. Before the media tries to spin this act as (and this if for argument’s sake) indicative of how angry, right-wing men are becoming problematic (they’re not), let’s wait until all the facts are out about this person. We should all be really sick of the derivative, quasi-intellectual theories peddled by social justice warriors with American studies degrees that never turn out to be true by this point.
Friendly Reminder: The Grand Theater where the shooting took place is a gun free zone. The patrons were defenseless when Houser began to open fire.