Last month, Brandon Hole’s mom called the Indianapolis police to say her son had expressed that he wanted to die in a "suicide by cop" incident. The police took his new shotgun away. By law there, "red flag" cases get a "due process" hearing for the return of a weapon.
But Brandon Hole didn’t go to court to have his weapon returned. By forfeiting his rifle, he avoided the adjudication of his competency that likely would have red-flagged him as at-risk and ineligible to buy guns. Instead, he legally purchased two more weapons after the FBI visited his home on the alert for anything alarming. Brandon bought a Ruger AR-556 and an HM Defense HM15F. And then, last week, the 19-year-old went to his former workplace at a FedEx, and started shooting before he even entered the building. In all, he killed eight people. In an exclusive interview, his stepsister told NewsNation that the young mass-murderer "never got the help he needed.”
"We can't continue living with the constant threat of gun violence everywhere we go," said Indiana Congressman Andre Carson. "It's not normal. It will never be normal. ... Let's turn this tragedy into a catalyst of change and create safer communities for all Americans." Indianapolis City Council President Vop Osili called for "an adult discussion without rancor" on preventing mass killings of people.
Loopholes should be closed in any solutions aimed at curbing mass shootings and suicides. Red Flag Laws are seen as a suicide-prevention measure. In just this year alone, Oklahoma has suffered 58 gun killings or gun suicides. Statewide, one Okie dies by gun about every other day. In Mayes, Muskogee, Delaware and Cherokee counties, people die more frequently because of being shot than in nearby Wagoner, Sequoyah and Adair counties. Three-fourths of all Oklahoma homicides are committed by gun.
Nationwide thus far, 12,676 gun deaths have taken place this year. Actually, that is old news, because the deaths mount upward every single day. By the time this article can be formatted, printed and read, there will probably be about 500 more deaths. Thus far, a crude average is that 117 people died from gunshots every day this year. This article excludes the proportionally higher number of gunshot victims who live, and some of those lives are shattered forever by disabilities that come about from the wounds. We hear more about it when one human kills several others. By far the most frequent profile of a gun death involves one shooter blasting the life out of himself – statistically male – or one other victim.
Opinions vary from year to year about the cause of mass shootings. In the years 2011 to 2019, Gallup Opinion Poll surveys reported folks opined that the mental health system failed to identify mentally ill people at risk for mass shootings. In more recent years, respondents peg the spread of extremist views on the internet as a more prominent cause for mass shootings, as concern dwindles over time about movies, games and internet. But a stunning 69% of respondents in 2019 felt "easy access to guns" is an element in the frequency of mass shootings. And a large 61% consensus of the public in 2019 stated the manufacture, possession and sale of semi-automatic guns, known as assault rifles, should be banned.
So, we have a problem: Innocent killing spree victims are randomly dying at the hands of mass murderers. We have public will in favor of solving that problem with an assault weapons ban. Piecemeal state approaches can do little to solve the problem, because guns can flow from states with weaker laws. Lawmakers should do the tough work of protecting the public from mentally ill people who do not have the right to take human lives. We need replete effective and widespread smart solutions that only Congress can offer.
Kathy Tibbits is a Cherokee citizen, attorney, and artist living at Lake Tenkiller.