Friday, July 24, 2015


Is there any combination of criminal activity, mental illness, and political extremism that can motivate authorities to significantly restrict a white male's access to guns? John Russell Houser, the Louisiana movie theater shooter, had a criminal record and 57 varieties of dysfunction -- yet he was packing heat last night in Lafayette. The authorities knew he was a threat to his family:
He was treated in 2008 and 2009 for mental health problems after his wife and other family members took out a temporary protective order against him for extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements.”

The filing shows Kellie Houser was so fearful of her husband, who “has a history of mental health issues, i.e., manic depression and/or bi-polar disorder,” that she removed all the guns from their home.

The order was granted, according to court records, and she filed for divorce in March 2015.
And recently:
Houser was evicted last year from a rental property on 32nd Street, where his estranged wife owns a home.... It’s not clear whether he lived at the home when the photo was taken.

A criminal mischief complaint was filed against him after he destroyed some property at the home, but the Russell County sheriff said he was not sure whether an arrest warrant was issued.
Prior to that:
Lafayette Mayor Lester Joseph Durel, Jr., said Houser's prior arrests were for arson and a misdemeanor for selling alcohol to a minor, but that he had no arrest record in 10-15 years. "There is nothing else on him," Durel said.
The domestic troubles sound frightening:
Houser “has a history of mental health issues, i.e., manic depression and/or bi-polar disorder,” according to a request for a temporary protective order filed against him in 2008 by his wife and daughter, as well as his daughter’s then-fiance and the fiance’s parents.

The family said that even though he lived in Phenix City, Alabama, he had come to their home in Carroll County, Georgia, and “perpetrated various acts of family violence.”

His daughter, Kirbey Ellen Houser, was engaged to be married to Andrew Michael Broome at the time, and Houser was vehemently opposed, the court papers said. “He has exhibited extreme erratic behavior and has made ominous as well as disturbing statements” that their marriage would not occur, the filing says.
He was turned down for a concealed carry permit in 2006, and his wife removed guns from their house. But obviously this didn't prevent him from obtaining the gun he used in the theater. I'll just remind you that the state of Georgia doesn't believe domestic violence is much of a reason to restrict access to guns:
Georgia has few laws to prevent abusers from having easy access to guns.

• Georgia has no law prohibiting domestic violence misdemeanants or defendants subject to domestic violence protective orders from purchasing or possessing firearms, unlike federal law. As a result, people convicted of abusing non-cohabitating dating partners and family members, such as siblings, can legally own guns.

• Georgia does not require the surrender of firearms owned by a person who has become prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law.

• State law also does not bar stalking misdemeanants from purchasing or possessing firearms.

• Georgia does not require a background check for all gun buyers, including those shopping at gun shows or over the Internet.
Houser was also a broad-spectrum hatemonger. Yes, it's a free country, but if he were Muslim and expressed this much politicized hate, the government would want to know all about it. A few items from the Southern Poverty Law Center's roundup of Houser's Internet postings:

He was also a fan of the Greek fascist group Golden Dawn.

But you get the feeling from reading his postings that he both feared and craved the Apocalypse, and he shot up the theater because it wasn't coming fast enough. This is from a manifesto he posted in 2013:
1 Recognize a lost cause.It is too late.The US is oozing the puss of foolishness and perversion.

... Truth and death always go hand in hand, and in our brave moments we can laugh. Whatever truth requires, I will accept.

... 4 For the few who will understand this, it is my hope that you will see to one preparation for the coming downfall, which will be worse than a Mad Max scenario. That preparation is not storing up canned goods, munitions,etc, but to gather what will be necessary to put in your families food to insure a painless and certain death should the need arise.,if there are no cell phones,no TV,no power,gas,no stores,no police,etc.

5 If you are male, fight until the end, and enjoy it.People are good at what they enjoy, and your Maker would want it that way.
We stop and frisk black males on scant pretext, and "law and order" types howl when we put any curbs whatsoever on the practice. We scrutinize the beliefs and activities of Muslims. But this guy pretty much does what he wants, and hardly anyone in authority cares, until it's too late.


UPDATE: And on the subject of the government putting roadblocks in the way of gun access for Houser, please note this:
[In 2006], Houser applied for a concealed carry permit but was denied based on a previous arson charge and his wife’s allegations. He was then committed to a mental hospital in Columbus in 2008....

The sheriff said it’s now tougher to deny gun permits than in 2006, when authorities were able to keep Houser from legally carrying a concealed weapon.

“Today, it would be extremely difficult to potentially deny that very case,” Taylor said.
Unbelievable. And, from the same story, we learn this about Houser's activities last year:
When John Russell “Rusty” Houser was evicted from [his] quiet corner house in March 2014, sheriffs said, he trashed the place, dousing it in paint and gasoline and stuffing concrete down its pipes.

When the new home-owners decided to renovate, they had to call the fire department twice in one day after booby-trapped doors burst into flames.

“There was some tampering with the gas line that ran into the fireplaces,” said Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor. Tracie Chancey, who has lived on 32nd Street with her husband and children since 2007, feared that the arson could have been much worse. “It shook us up when we found out what he did to that home.”
And even after that he was walking around free and with access to guns. What a country.


petrilli said...

You bring up a terribly overlooked point. So much of law enforcement is flexible, arbitrary, political. Prosecutors decide which crimes to charge, enforce, etc. Cops in the field have plenty of discretion in this area. Law enforcement lets guilty people go all the time. Look at Whitey Bulger and Sammy Gravano. Whole murders wiped clean. On the other hand, Black Panther leaders can be premeditatedly murdered in their beds with no consequence.

Yeah, Law enforcement could do as you suggest tomorrow. The legal and ethical foundation to support it is there.

Friendly emperor said...

Good questions. But they're also old questions. I'm not (at all!) sure of when this started (I missed two decades of crime in America while living overseas) but it appears to be blamed, more/less, on '60's "libruls," and our eagerness to get people better treatment. Part of this, to my understanding, was getting rid of snakepits -- cruel, medieval mental health institutions where people with mental illnesses could be warehoused out of sight/mind. As a society, we kind of wanted them out of our view, but we didn't like out-and-out cruelty and oblivion.

So then we threw open the doors of mental hospitals and sent the ill -- often still very ill -- onto the streets.

My first experience of the results of this was as a volunteer, in Austin TX, with homeless people. Some were escaped felons, some were people with mental illness, some a mix of both plus other factors. The police -- often players in the dramas I witnessed -- had been trained not to deal with the ill so much as how to avoid confrontations with them. Society -- and the police who are evidently there to give more protection to the middle and upper middle class "normal people" than to, you know, vagabonds, nutcases, illegals and other riff-raff -- with few exceptions carried out that mandate with knee-jerk regularity. "Why bother?" was one popular reaction to the least fortunate, the hungriest, the dirtiest, the most desperate, the mentally ill (who sometimes screamed and got embarrassing) ... and.... you know. "Why bother? They'll be back living in the bushes in the park no matter what you do...

I see the police as armed thuggery as most of us do now. But, when I was in touch with them, I often saw their frustration at not having a clear mandate, resources, or having a constantly changing mandate depending on our national mood -- sometimes pragmatic to the point of brutality, sometimes forgiving to the point of carelessness.

petrilli said...

"--sometimes pragmatic to the point of brutality, sometimes forgiving to the point of carelessness."
For some reason, the forgiving part of it is often derided by fellow LEO's as weakness at best and endangerment at worst. I'll admit it's probably riskier for a cop to go into an encounter not ready to shoot at the first blink. On the other hand they'll rescue people from burning cars in a barrage of bullets. That risk they'll take. It's a small risk not to beat a guy to a bloody pulp because he cracked a little wise, or to let an agitated person cool down by backing off a little. It really won't kill you. If you're willing to risk running into a burning building, you can risk doing the other it seems to me. It's just the kind of quiet heroism that won't make the papers or win respect from fellow macho shithead cops.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Look as a Police Officer it's quite simple. Conservatives believe the only legitmate use of Police Powers and Laws is to oppress liberal, hamper regulatory bodies investigating Corporate Crime, and murdering People of Color. Any other use is "Unconstitutional".

Cliven Bundy? tyrannical overreach and fascist use of government by blackity black black Obama and Holder.

Beating up Occupy Protests? Law & Order.

Prosecuting Tom DeLay? Political Witch Hunt! Jesse Jackson Jr. corrupt Dumbocrat Criminal!

There are numerous examples dating back to Ronald Reagan's IRan Contra War Crimes and the rise of the Militia Movement against Bill Clinton.

Arthur Mervyn said...

Just for the record, manic depression is the old name for what is now called bipolar disorder. I understand if the man's family used both terms in filing the restraining order, but I was bothered that CNN reported that the man was suffering from the "two" mental disorders without the context that that was the family's characterization.