Isla Vista Tragedy: Rodgers Family Calls For Gun Control

Isla Vista Tragedy: Rodgers Family Calls For Gun Control

Over the Memorial Day weekend, twenty people were murdered in heavily gun-restricted Chicago. Eight more were wounded in gun-restricted Detroit. But those victims are mostly nameless and faceless, unworthy of mention by those who profess compassion for victims of gun crime. The Left stands notorious for their exploitation of the victims of violence, specifically gun violence that results in attention-grabbing headlines, to push their agenda to disarm America. “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” they say. And the reaction to the atrocity committed by an evil, and highly unstable young man (whose name deserves to be forgotten) in Isla Vista last week against innocent, unarmed citizens is no exception.

I won’t stand in judgment of a grieving family, for I cannot begin to fathom the unspeakable pain they are in. My heart breaks for all involved. That said, the knee-jerk rush to blame firearms is wholly misguided. Rather than confront the major role the mental instability of their son played, nor to some extent their own possible neglect in fully recognizing his mental disturbance, the young man’s family is placing responsibility for his actions not on him, but rather on the usual suspect: guns. From Alan Shifman, attorney for Peter Rodger:

“’On behalf of the Rodgers family they want to make sure that the victims and the victims’ families are aware that this is the tragedy of the most extreme,’ Shifman said. ‘They want to send their deepest condolences to all of the victims’ families involved.’

‘My client’s mission in life will be to try to prevent any such tragedies from ever happening again,’ Shifman said. ‘This country, this world, needs to address mental illness and the ramifications from not recognizing these illnesses.’

Shifman also claimed the family is ‘staunchly against guns’ and supports gun control laws. ‘They are extremely, extremely upset that anybody was hurt under these circumstances.’”

Shifman’s statement, while welcome, does not address the fact that the young man’s first three victims were killed with a knife. Nor does it discuss the fact that California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Finally, the statement neglects to mention that at least two others, who thankfully survived, were hit with the perpetrator’s car. Should we control knives and cars, too?

I’ve seen mental illness in various forms. It does not rear its head overnight; there are always signs. Reports indicate there were obvious warnings in this case that the perpetrator had violent intentions. Which begs many questions: Why did the police—after being alerted by his parents to his many You Tube videos mentioning violence and suicide weeks before the attacks—not think it appropriate to obtain a search warrant for his home? Are they not well versed in the manipulative machinations of the mentally ill? Did they review his various online posts, hinting at violence? Did they interview his family and friends? If not, why not? It is reported that the young man had been in and out of therapy since the age of eight struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, up until the very day of the murders, when his therapist alerted his family to a chilling email. What was his diagnosis? How was he being treated? Was he being treated? Why was he allowed to purchase firearms in a state with such already-strict gun control laws?

Of course, capitalizing politicians like Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have, right on cue, jumped aboard the Gun Grabber Train, exploiting the tragedy for their own agendas.

“‘Obviously, not every kind of gun violence is going to be prevented by laws out of Washington,’ Blumenthal told CBS. ‘But at least we can make a start.’

‘I am going to urge that we bring back those bills, maybe reconfigure them, center on mental health, which is a point where we can agree that we need more resources to make the country healthier and to make sure that these kinds of horrific, insane, mad occurrences are stopped.’”

I think most of us can agree that those with severe mental illness—particularly those with violent tendencies as this young man displayed—should not have access to guns (the mother of the Sandy Hook shooter allowing her son access to her legally-owned weapons comes to mind). But where do we draw the line, Mr. Blumenthal? We’ve already seen reports that the federal government wishes to restrict firearms ownership by our veterans, whom they deem potential “domestic terrorists,” in a program dubbed Operation Vigilant Eagle. And we can imagine that anyone with any history of mental illness, regardless of how benign, successfully treated, or invented by an administration who views its political opponents as “terrorists,” will be the target of gun control by a snooping federal government if the gun control crowd has its way. How many of us have ever been medicinally-treated for depression? How many of our children have been treated for the overly-diagnosed ADHD? The list goes on, and includes millions and millions of Americans whose diagnoses would then restrict them from owning a firearm citing the convenient “mental illness” excuse. How very back door gun control-ish.

I can say with relative certainty that Mr. Blumenthal and his fellow pols are not genuinely interested in the one factor all of the recent mass shootings have in common: Each was committed by mentally disturbed individuals. So Mr. Shifman is correct when he states that we need to address the mental health aspect that always accompanies these horrific mass shootings. But how we address it is not to call for national gun control. There will always be disturbed citizens determined to wreak havoc on society. And they will always find a way. We can’t stop that. No gun control law ever will. Nor should we ever throw aside our Second Amendment guaranteed right to self defense. But what we can do is defend ourselves to the best of our abilities. We know that it was only when met with armed resistance that the killing spree ended in the perpetrator’s apparent suicide. For the logically minded, it’s an obvious answer to the “how do we stop this” question: Coupled with the elimination of those ludicrous liberal Gun Free Zones, had at least one of the initial three victims been armed, the young man hell-bent on completing his premeditated crime would almost certainly have never made it out of his house that fateful day.

I understand the instinctive need to blame an unspeakable crime on something other than the painful truth that is right before our eyes. But we must face reality. And so eventually must this family. I hope and pray that those enduring this nightmare can find peace, but not at the expense of the rights of their fellow Americans.

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  • Catherine says:

    Excellent Jodi….I wish the family had stayed in seclusion and said nothing….they are thrashing around for something to blame as I suspect they’ve been doing for a while. I’m sorry for their pain but who’s casting blame on the liberal mind-set that legislated the victims to be defenseless?

  • Jen says:

    I heard the father’s anquished statement that he gave this morning on the radio. He only talked about how he had lost his son due to guns, that nothing was done after the Sandy Hook shooting, and now his son was gone, how to people who have 6 year olds killed by guns manage, etc.

    I don’t want to seem insensitive to a grieving father, but his anger is not only misplaced, but truthfully, it is telling. This entire tragedy is someone else’s fault, not his son’s. I suspect that the denial and blaming has probably been a recurring theme in this family, which is why the young man who was obviously deeply mentally ill an disturbed, was not in a committed type of treatment program AND he was not therefore adjudicated mentally ill, and by current law, ineligible to possess a firearm.

    One also has to wonder if the “tolerance for anything goes” culture that is being foistered on us also helped in this circumstance to lull his roommates into believing that the guy was not dangerous, but simply a “free spirit”.

  • Jodi says:

    All good points, Jen. I get that in his grief he wants to blame everything and anything but his son, and perhaps his own neglect to recognize his son was a danger to society. Who wants to admit their child has the capacity to kill multiple people with reckless abandon? I also suspect this lack of personal responsibility and objectification of women in particular was a theme in his home, or at the very least ignoring his illness and thinking he’d just grow out of it.

    I’ve known people in my life who displayed dangerous behavior that grew into much more. Their behavior was ignored, for whatever reason, and I can tell you, they did not grow out of it. There but for the grace of God go I.

  • wfjag says:

    One group whose acts and omissions are not being examined, but should be, is the police. The parents reported to the police a summary of the young man’s manifesto for murder. The cops could have obtained and read (or at least skimmed) a copy, but apparently did not before the mass murder (apparently since 140 +/- pages is too much to be expected to be reviewed by law enforcement). Likewise, the cops could have checked to see if he’d recently purchased any firearms. The cops were able to determine this within a few hours after the murders (since, they have access to the the federal database, on-line). After learning of 3 recent purchases of semi-auto pistols (a bit much for self-protection, even in an upper scale southern California college community), the cops could have also checked other related recent purchases, such as the number of magazines and ammo (since most purchases are by credit cards, and those records are also available to the police, on-line). Again, within a few hours after the mass murder, the cops learned that he’d purchased about 10 magazines per pistol and about 500 rounds of ammo (and since young Rodgers wasn’t a SEAL in training, that’s a lot more than is usually needed to go to the range for target practice). The cops could have also learned, via on-line records, that the recent large purchases of fire arms, magazines and ammo were out of character for Rodgers. Hunters and people who regularly go to the firing range will have a history of purchases, so buying 500 rounds periodically isn’t unusual. Here, however, the purchases coincided with Rodgers’ release of his murder manifesto. And, since the parents had already told the cops that he was under psychiatric care (and, if the therapist had been contacted, the therapist could have confirmed that Rodgers was making threats of violence), even Southern Cal College Town Cops would have had enough to have an “Aut Oh!” moment, and asked for a search warrant for Rodgers’ apartment and car, and asked the DA to consider a civil commitment on the grounds that Rodgers was a danger to himself or others.

    Instead, the cops treated it as a routine worry-wart parents call, didn’t check out anything, knocked on door of Rodgers’ apartment, and when they found the polite, child of a wealthy parent, checked the block on the report that said they’d talked to him, and left.

    Yet, according to the parents, the rest of us should entrust our lives to this level of unconcern and lack of thoroughness.

    • Jodi Giddings says:

      Bingo, wfjag.

    • Jen says:

      No, I do not want the cops going through all of my records, determining how many guns I own, how much ammo I have, etc.
      What you are suggesting is full on tyranny, based on a phone call from a parent of an adult(Remember, this is not a 16 year old kid, he’s a grown adult with full rights as an American).
      It is not up to the police to determine who is and who is not sane. I have not read any accounts that state that the police were aware of Rodger’s manifesto. His mother saw his videos online and got concerned. He didn’t release his manifesto until 9:17pm on the night of the shooting, emailing it at that point to his parents, his therapists, and some friends.
      Per Fox News

      “Rodger’s mother saw his new videos online in late April and called police to ask that they check on her son. Seven officers knocked on his apartment door on April 30, he wrote.

      “As soon as I saw those cops, the biggest fear I had ever felt in my life overcame me. I had the striking and devastating fear that someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do, and reported me for it.” The police left after he “tactfully told them that it was all a misunderstanding,” Rodger wrote.

      He took down the videos from YouTube that disturbed his mother.”

      His psychiatrist had a legal responsibility to notify police that he is a danger to himself and to his neighbors and get the ball rolling on an involuntary commitment. Which is not easy, with the laws being what they are today. Psychiatric patients are a very protected group now , thanks to the ACLU and others.

      This is a horrible tragedy, and it won’t be the last. Crazy people have done crazy things for centuries, Rodgers is not an isolated incident. But to now give police the power to determine someone’s mental state based on an accusation from a family or friend, and then to have them come in, confiscate my firearms, ammo, (maybe in this instance, knives, an ax, the car, etc.) is way too much power to give to the police. The police acting on an emergency order from a court based on a filing by a professional psychiatrist is a different situation and one I could support.

      • Dana says:

        wthag wrote:

        His psychiatrist had a legal responsibility to notify police that he is a danger to himself and to his neighbors and get the ball rolling on an involuntary commitment. Which is not easy, with the laws being what they are today. Psychiatric patients are a very protected group now , thanks to the ACLU and others.

        He did? Was Mr Rodger ever diagnosed as so serious a danger to others that doctor/patient confidentiality could be overridden?

    • Dana says:

      whjag wrote:

      Instead, the cops treated it as a routine worry-wart parents call, didn’t check out anything, knocked on door of Rodgers’ apartment, and when they found the polite, child of a wealthy parent, checked the block on the report that said they’d talked to him, and left.

      What more could be expected? They did not have a search warrant, and Mr Rodger did not provide them with probable cause to either arrest him or search his apartment without one.

      And most police departments do not have the time, the manpower or the money to put into full investigations of that nature.

      • Jodi says:

        All excellent points, Jen and Dana. I think coupled with all of the other red flags this young man was waving for years (including purchasing multiple hand guns and ammo he’d never had a history of before), I think the police could have taken a few moments to review his online commentary which was reportedly very disconcerting, and found reason to request a warrant. I don’t believe they did their due diligence. We may never know.

        That said, I stand by my assertion that if just one of his roommates had been armed, he’d never had made it out of his house. Gun control leads to increased deaths at the hands of lunatics like this young man clearly was.

        • wfjag says:


          Since (and before) the founding of the Republic, threating to kill people has been considered criminal conduct, and supports an additional investigation. The question is how realistic the threat is, and that depends on the surrounding facts. Moreover, there are other crimes that a threat can be considered to be (and, even lawyers sometime forget this — see the current American Bar Association Journal article “Lawyer charged with felony intimidation over Facebook message to client’s ex-husband” (May 14, 2014) at
          The specific language that got the lawyer charged was “After I get [my client] out of jail I’m going to gather all the relevant evidence and them (sic, then) I’m going to a**l rape you so hard your teeth come loose.” [he used the 4-letter word beginning with “a” and meaning butt opening, and didn’t use asterisks. He, also, should proof read, and not depend only on spell check].

          It is not tyranny for the police to investigate whether someone is seriously planning a crime. For example, the cops don’t have to wait for perps to enter a bank and take hostages if there is credible information that they are planning a heist. However, you need facts that confirm the statements are factual, and that takes doing some investigative work.

          In this case, young Rodgers’ threats appeared fairly specific — much more so than some college kid who’s been reading the nillist philosophers in class and is trying to look like he’s a serious thinker. This also bears on the therapist’s duty to report. It has been reported that when the shooting were being reported, Rodgers’ mother called the therapist because she was worried (based on his prior statements and video postings) that her son was the perp. The therapist assured her that it couldn’t be her son, since his plan wasn’t to be carried out until the next night, and she (the mother) should know that her son always followed his plans and didn’t vary from them. Assuming that news media report is at all accurate (sometimes a very iffy assumption), that means that Rodgers had made detailed statements to the therapist. [The shooter in Aurora, Colo, had also made detailed statements and send a thick packet containing his plans to his therapist, who also didn’t call the police to report that he was possibly dangerous. This is frequently part of the pattern. The perps tell those around them what they intend to do. I’ve seen 2 to 4 reports per year that when these statements are reported to someone in authority, like a school teacher or principle, who then takes a serious look into the facts, such mass attacks are thwarted. However, when, as here and in several other mass attacks, the threats are not treated seriously, that the attacks proceed].

          The facts to support probable cause for a search warrant aren’t nearly has high, and never have been as high, as you appear to think. The standard is generally is there sufficient, apparently reliable information, that a reasonable person would conclude that there is a reasonable likelihood that evidence of a crime (including planning for a future crime) will be found at a location, and a reasonably specific description of the evidence that is expected to be found at a location. A judge reviews the application for the facts it states before issuing a warrant. IMO, if the police had checked the info available on-line, and gotten details from the mother (and likely they could have gotten additional details from the therapist, since if there was a reasonable suspicion that Rodgers was a danger to himself or others, the therapist has a duty to report), they could have gotten a search warrant. However, it appears that they didn’t check to see what facts were avalable, and instead treated it as a call from a helicopter parent.

          Additionally, some press reports are that Rodgers mailed his manifesto before he started the killings. So, it appears that that was out before he started, also.

          Further, the police do not need a warrant to enter premises if someone who lives there invites them in. That’s a common police ploy — “Can we come in and talk?” Most people say “Yes”. And, one of the roommates could let them in, and could also be asked about whether Rodgers had made any threats, possessed fire arms and substantial amounts of ammo, etc. (e.g., the types of facts that would confirm or refute suspicions based on the info Rodgers had posted and told his parents and therapist). Once the cops are in, anything they see, hear or smell that indicates evidence of a crime can be used in a securing search warrant (or, if the object is apparent evidence of a crime, can be seized under the plain view doctrine, and used to support an arrest, and then a search of the premises incident to an arrest). However, cops don’t tend to act this way with the kids of wealthy people (who can hire top lawyers and who likely have social and political connections). I suspect that is what occurred here.

          While I tend to sympathize with Jodi’s contention that had one of the roomates been armed, Rodgers wouldn’t have gotten out of the apartment, I’m not as confident. Rodgers knifed to death 3 young men. Most people attacked with a knife fight back with desperation, usually yell and try to get away. It takes a while for someone to bleed out. Unless Rodgers was very skilled with a knife (like Special Ops military are taught), he probably surprised each of those victims one at at time. Even if they had had pistols, it is questionable whether any of them would have gotten to them (and Rodgers likely would have known they were armed and used one of his own pistols, instead).

          While I strongly support the right to bear arms (after having been deployed to places where the population was not allowed to be, and saw what happened there), I believe that my right to be armed means that I am the last line of defense for myself and my family. I expect the police to be the first line of defense. Here, the line of defense failed, and the people Rodgers attacked weren’t prepared to defend themselves, either.

          That’s how mass murders occur. The statistics show that when a shooter is confronted at the outset by someone who is armed with a firearm (whether a cop, security guard or citizen) the average number of deaths (including the perp) is 2. Very frequently the perp commits suicide when so confronted (as Rodgers did). However, when the police must be called and are the first responders, then the average number of deaths (including the perp) is 14. Here, fortunately, Rodgers did most of his shooting from a moving car, and so missed most of his targets (and doesn’t appear to have been a good shot, in any event). Still, he shot, apparently at close range, 3 girls on the lawn of the sorority and killed 2 of them, and then shot the young man sitting at the deli from a stopped car. Still, he missed most of his targets. And, even more fortunately, the front door of the sorority was locked, and he didn’t try going to another door or breaking a window to get in. If he’d accomplished entering that building, he’d had minutes to go room to room before any police could respond. Even so, this is another example of “When seconds count, the police are minutes away.”

  • Chris in N.Va. says:

    I have taken keen note of radio reports the past few days referring to the “mass shooting” that occurred.

    Hmm.. “mass” = THREE?

    No mention of the “mass stabbing” (also three) or the “mass-minus-one” tally of vehicular assault and battery.

    So, if i gave these copy writers three jelly beans, would I be able to tout my largess in bestowing upon them a “mass” of jelly beans? (Don’t eat that “mass” all at once or you’ll get a tummy ache!) Or would a baseball cap collection of three caps qualify as a “mass collection” of headgear? (Calling Guinness World’s Records!)

    To think I went through Intermediate Calculus decades ago in college and never once encountered this ersatz fuzzy-math quantity.

    • Jodi Giddings says:

      Weird, isn’t it, Chris? It’s almost like they have an agenda or something.

      • Jodi Giddings says:

        BTW: Guilty of using the word “mass.” I was thinking more of the Sandy Hooks, et al, which didn’t include knives and BMWs.

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