Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears.....

Occasionally a story crosses the news media sources that is just too good to pass up. Such is the story of the Ohio man whose wild animals were set free purposely right before he committed suicide. The man owned a wild game "preserve". On the loose were lions, tigers, wolves, grizzly bears, camels, and other exotic animals. There are times when guns come in handy, though I know my readers will be surprised at this statement on my blog. Such is the case here:
Officers in the mostly rural area about 55 miles east of Columbus were under orders to shoot to kill for fear that animals hit with tranquilizer darts would run off and hide in the darkness.
It turns out that Ohio is one of the easiest states in the country for people to own exotic animals legally even though there have been more than a few instances of wild animals getting loose and threatening humans. This time, no one was injured but it was tense as law enforcement and other officials had to go hunting for exotic animals in the dark of night and tell people to stay inside with their pets and children. Schools were closed. Signs were posted on freeways. Weird but true.

Terry Thompson, the owner of the animals, was not your average law abiding gun owner:
Thompson recently was set free himself. He spent a year behind bars on federal weapons charges, according to The Associated Press. He had previously been cited in the past for animal abuse and neglect.
Just a reflection here.  I have been blogging long enough to have linked to hundreds if not thousands of stories. I don't know how many times I write about gun owners getting into trouble for illegal activity with their guns. People who start out as law abiding don't always stay that way. Guns make it so much easier for things to go wrong, being that they are inherently dangerous and, depending on the situation,  illegal.

Does this sound like a man who should have a lot of guns around him?
Thompson was known as a flamboyant, volatile man. The sheriff's department had been to the property on dozens of occasions over the last decade to check into reports of animal cruelty or animals on the loose.
Thompson would stare down those who entered his property with his steely blue eyes. He'd cuss and scream.
"I'll be damned," Thompson would shout, according to county Humane Officer David Durst. "I'll let them animals go!"
This blog includes excerpts from a story from October, 2010 from the Zanesville, Ohio Reporter Tonya Shipley:
Thompson was charged after agents with Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms served a search warrant at Thompson's home on Kopchak Road in 2008. At that time, the ATF seized 133 weapons and a small amount of ammunition. Thompson's conviction centered on eight of those guns -- five fully automatic firearms and three short-barreled firearms without serial numbers. Thompson was formerly a gun dealer who did not renew his license several years ago.
So the combination of volatility, anger, a bit of crazy, and a penchant for owning wild animals does not seem to go very well with a bunch of illegal guns. What in the world were all those guns for anyway? And from where did he acquire them in the first place? He was a gun dealer at one time but it doesn't sound like a good example of a licensed dealer. Guns without serial numbers? Getting fully automatic weapons is difficult and expensive. I guess Thompson didn't follow the laws as a licensed gun dealer. He must have had ways to get these guns without going through the usual channels if they were considered to be illegal. Where there's a will, there's a way, I guess. Where is common sense?

And now, over 50 wild animals are dead, some of them rare and endangered Bengal Tigers and one man is dead by suicide. And the town will have this story to tell for years to come. And further, let's hope that the Governor of Ohio will see fit to change the laws allowing people to collect these wild animals in the first place as most other states have done.

11 comments:

  1. "And from where did he acquire them in the first place? He was a gun dealer at one time but it doesn't sound like a good example of a licensed dealer. Guns without serial numbers? Getting fully automatic weapons is difficult and expensive. I guess Thompson didn't follow the laws as a licensed gun dealer. He must have had ways to get these guns without going through the usual channels if they were considered to be illegal."

    A couple of accounts said that the guns were owned by his father and were inherited and without paperwork. If the lists I saw were accurate, they were older guns--one a German STG44 from WW2 which is a true assault rifle. I saw no mention that he ever dealt in NFA controlled guns, legal or illegally.

    "And further, let's hope that the Governor of Ohio will see fit to change the laws allowing people to collect these wild animals in the first place as most other states have done."

    It will take the legislature to change the law, not the Governor.

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  2. Yup, but the Governor let the bill lapse and should push for it to come back to the legislature.

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  3. "A couple of accounts said that the guns were owned by his father and were inherited and without paperwork. If the lists I saw were accurate, they were older guns--one a German STG44 from WW2 which is a true assault rifle. I saw no mention that he ever dealt in NFA controlled guns, legal or illegally."

    Estimates, prior to the passage of the GCA of 1968, was that there were a couple of million war trophy machine guns in the US. There were only a couple of hundred thousand that were registered after the law passed. The rest of them are still sitting in attics and closets.

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  4. We obviously need to pass a law that forbids the release of wild animals before you commit suicide.

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  5. Let's get inside this guy's psyche a little, and ask WHY he owned wild, exotic animals, and WHY he had an arsenal of machine guns and other firearms. I think the reason for both is the same: he had an irrational addiction to things that made him *feel* powerful, and probably covering up for deep insecurity.

    If he were interested only in self-protection, he wouldn't have needed illegal guns or such an arsenal. If he were interested in the welfare or protection of his animals (like most animal preserves), he wouldn't have cared for them so poorly, and he wouldn't have released them, dooming them to death by authorities. Nor did he have any care at all for the public, who would be at risk from the animals he set free.

    No, his desires and addictions to guns and dangerous animals were borne out of insecurity, and he didn't give a damn what the consequences were because of it. Like all addicts, the threat of taking away the objects of his addictions led him to lash out and to harm himself. Like all serious addictions, in the end it ruined (and took) his life.

    Every time I hear about pro-gun extremists and their large arsenals, I think the same thing, and wonder when it will all implode on them.

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  6. Agree with Baldr. Another psychological analysis of behavior like this is that our minds have evolved to employ certain strategies to get what we want. One of these innate strategies is to make it clear, if not to everyone, at least to the people around you that you are prepared to do anything to get what you want, even unimaginable things like releasing wild animals or collecting weapons with the intention of killing other people.

    Supposedly, an important point in these situations (where people run amok) is that they have to make it clear to somebody that they are deranged and will even take actions that are not in their own best interest---like killing themselves or killing you and suffering the legal consequences. The "somebody" here can be anyone from society at large to just your spouse or a neighbor with whom you are in conflict.

    This analysis (from Steven Pinker, "How the Mind Works") sounds counter-intuitive, but I think explains that the behavior of people like wild-animal-guy can actually be understood and construed as a rational way of getting what you want (even if you're not conscious of that motive).

    Crazy leaders like the late, unlamented Khaddafy, perhaps have employed a strategy like this. We think, "This guy is crazy. He'll do anything if we cross him."

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  7. baldr writes:
    "Let's get inside this guy's psyche a little, and ask WHY he owned wild, exotic animals, and WHY he had an arsenal of machine guns and other firearms. I think the reason for both is the same: he had an irrational addiction to things that made him *feel* powerful, and probably covering up for deep insecurity. "

    I think this is complete conjecture on your part - unless you happen to be professionally qualified to make this sort of analysis from afar?

    "Every time I hear about pro-gun extremists and their large arsenals, I think the same thing, and wonder when it will all implode on them. "

    I'm curious what you think makes for a "large arsenal"?
    b

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  8. @ Bryan: No, I'm not a professional psychologist. My statement is based on my understanding of others I have heard of or lesser cases of people I have actually known. It seems pretty obvious to me. Are you saying you disagree with my conjecture?

    As for what constitutes a "large arsenal", this guy had 133 firearms that authorities were going to seize from him. I'd say that qualifies. Do you disagree?

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  9. Japete,

    I stand corrected. You were correct. The Governor isn't going to wait for the legislature.

    http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2011/10/21/columbus-executive-order-to-be-signed.html

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  10. baldr writes:
    "It seems pretty obvious to me. Are you saying you disagree with my conjecture? "

    I think you're overly simplifying this - and that neither of us is qualified to make the sort of leaps in conjecture that you're making in your overview of this situation.

    "I'd say that qualifies. Do you disagree?"

    I have no idea. I've seen some on your side argue that 2-3 guns and a thousand rounds of ammunition was an "arsenal". I was curious what your definition was.
    b

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  11. Here is a new article about Thompson trading his guns for the wild animals- http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/environment/ohio-man-who-released-lions-and-tigers-from-his-animal-preserve-was-deeply-in-debt/2011/10/21/gIQAjwOT2L_story.html?hpid=z4

    I guess there was a reason for his arsenal- trade. Also, he stated that he was not a hunter. He was a gun collector but of course, collected some illegal guns. This man had plenty of problems.

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