Dropped The Ball? Thousand Oaks Gunman Reportedly Had PTSD, Was Cleared Despite CA's 'Red Flag' Laws

Posted: Nov 12, 2018 4:55 PM
Dropped The Ball? Thousand Oaks Gunman Reportedly Had PTSD, Was Cleared Despite CA's 'Red Flag' Laws

New details have emerged about the gunman who killed 12 people at a bar before killing himself in Thousand Oaks, California on Wednesday night. Ian Long, 29, was a military veteran who suffered from PTSD after returning from a tour in Afghanistan that took place between 2010 and 2011, The Daily Mail reported.

Back in April, police had a run in with Long. They were called out to his Newbury Park home that he shared with his mom when neighbors heard loud crushing coming from inside.

Police were dispatched after Long shot a round from his handgun into one of the walls. He then barricaded himself inside. Police spent hours trying to get him to peacefully come outside, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

“They couldn’t get him out for a long time, like half the day,” neighbor Richard Berge told WSJ.

Mental health specialists were dispatched to the scene but they determined that he wasn’t a threat and didn’t qualify for an involuntary psychiatric hold.

According to neighbors, his mother, Colleen, said he was "hell to live with." They also said Colleen lived in a perpetual state of fear because of her son.

Although California has strict "red flag" laws, which allows police or family members to temporarily remove firearms from a person they deem a threat to themselves or others, it's unclear why Long's firearms were not removed back in April.

This is definitely an instance where law enforcement and mental health professionals dropped the ball. They could have helped Long receive help for his PTSD. Instead, they cleared him and left him on his way. 

Politicians and gun control advocates are quick to say we need these red flag laws. But here's the problem. Instead of diagnosing and treating the cause of things like service-related PTSD, they're waiting until someone like the Thousand Oak shooter kills a number of people before taking any kind of action. The answer isn't taking away someone's gun and then hoping they get better. The answer is providing treatment options and mental health resources to those who need it. 

At the end of the day, if someone is not of sound mind, it doesn't matter how they commit mass carnage. They can carry out their attack with a gun, a knife, a machete or any other weapon they see fit. We need to be looking at how to treat the problem not how to put a bandaid on it.