What Travis Reinking's Father Was Allowed To Do Is Everything That's Wrong With Gun Culture
April 23, 2018

You probably know this about the man suspected of shooting up a Tennessee Waffle House and killing four people:

Months before the man suspected of killing four people at a Tennessee Waffle House on Sunday became the target of a manhunt, authorities arrested him for trying to breach a barrier near the White House and later seized his guns.

Among the four weapons they took from Travis Reinking was the AR-15 semi­automatic rifle that police say he used in the Waffle House on Sunday. Two of the other weapons — a long gun and a handgun — are missing from Reinking’s apartment, and as of Sunday evening, Reinking was still at large.

And you probably know this:

... Reinking's father was present when ... deputies came to confiscate the guns, [Tazewell County sheriff Robert M.] Huston said. The father had a valid state authorization card and asked the police if he could keep the weapons. Deputies gave Reinking's father the weapons, Huston said.

"He was allowed to do that after he assured deputies he would keep them secure and away from Travis," Huston said, referring to Reinking's father.

Huston and Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said they believe Reinking's father returned the weapons to Reinking.

It's bad enough that Jeffrey Reinking, the father of Travis, returned the guns to him after that White House incident. But it wasn't the only troubling incident that should have concerned Jeffrey Reinking. There was this:

In June 2017, police records state Reinking threatened someone with an AR-15 while wearing a pink dress. After threatening the man, Reinking drove to a public pool and dove in before exposing himself to others at the pool, according to the reports.

And this, in May 2017:

In one police report from Tazewell, County, labeled suicide by firearm, the police report says that authorities were advised that Travis Reinking was allegedly “delusional and believed the famous entertainer Taylor Swift, was harassing him via stalking and hacking his phone.” He believed “everyone including his own family and the police are involved.”

His mother, father, and grandmother “were worried about Travis” so they called emergency services, the report states. “They stated Travis has been having these delusions since August 2014,” according to the report. Travis was accused of being “hostile towards police and does not recognize police authority. Travis also possesses several firearms.”

... Travis’ family “advised Travis made comments about killing himself earlier in the day. They also advised he owns and had access to many firearms at his residence,” reports allege.

Travis returned, and, reports say, police responded and allege he stated that “Taylor hacked his Netflix account and told him to meet her at the Dairy Queen.” He went into further detail of the delusion. He was taken for evaluation.

And yet:

When police contacted Reinking's father, the father said "awhile back he took 3 rifles and a hand gun away and locked them up when Travis was having problems. (The father) wanted to move out of state so he gave them back to (Travis)...” the reports state.

Jeffrey Reinking thought this was a perfectly reasonable thing to do -- and of course he did, because this is heartland America, and in heartland America the bar for being permanently deprived of guns, the most precious commodities in life, is extraordinarily high. This is what the American gun culture believes: Except for a handful of people who've been convicted of horrible crimes, firearms are always good to own. This, of course, applies only to people who look like Us, not Them. But if you're a heartland white American and you haven't killed anyone yet, of course it's fine for you to possess firearms -- even if you've been delusional and suicidal, even if you've broken the security perimeter at the White House, even if you've threatened someone at a public pool with an assault weapon.

And there seems to have been no law preventing Jeffrey Reinking from doing this. The authorities apparently got no more than a spoken agreement that he'd keep the guns away from his son. There probably isn't a law under which he could be charged and convicted. Could he be successfully sued? In gun-loving America, it's doubtful.

That's the gun culture, too. The gun culture doesn't want there to be laws that scare firearm owners into erring on the side of caution.

I imagine that we'd find a way to punish Jeffrey Reinking if his name were Muhanmmad. But I'm assuming that nothing will happen to him -- and that the gun community will block any efforts to change the laws so that people who are grossly negligent in this way are held accountable when relatives maim or kill.

Originally published at No More Mr. Nice Blog

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