So maybe it could happen here, after all

Hey, remember what the Governor said after the Newtown shootings? The stuff about Vermont’s unique gun culture?

Vermont’s strong, safe and relatively unregulated gun culture might contribute to a broader, “50-state” solution to curb firearms violence, Gov. Peter Shumlin says.

…”We’re not a state that glorifies weapons of war that are of little practical use to a civilian.”

Well, er, the folks down in Bennington may beg to differ.

A local teacher surrendered a Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle to police Monday, shortly after raising public safety concerns through videos and statements he posted on the Internet.

Steven Davis, a beloved science and math teacher at Mount Anthony Union High School for the past nine years, has been hospitalized since Monday following a mental health evaluation, according to Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette.

The Bennington Banner website reports that Davis had been distraught over a pending divorce, and had posted “videos and e-mails to coworkers accusing school officials of negligence and illegal activities.” And there’s this:

On Monday morning, Davis began posting videos that criticized school administrators, the teachers union and co-workers, among a slew of other topics. Davis also sent a school-wide email saying he would “remove the union and all of the teachers who are negatively affecting the children in this town.”

Davis’ Bushmaster AR-15 is the same weapon used in the Newtown shootings. He also owned “two high-capacity magazines and 500 rounds of ammunition,” which have been confiscated by police.  

Neighbors asked police to do a welfare check on Davis after seeing him carry the rifle to his vehicle Sunday evening. Davis then voluntarily surrendered the gun, telling police he put it in the trunk of his car in order to bring it to a storage unit he recently rented.

“This weapon was in a case. It has a trigger lock installed, but it was alarming to find two, 30-round, high-capacity magazines loaded,” Doucette said.

Maybe Davis was telling the truth: that he was simply transporting his loaded assault weapon to a storage locker. Why he’d store it loaded, I have no idea. On the other hand, he said some pretty alarming things in a voluntary interview with police, according to Chief Doucette:

“He never came out and threatened the teachers in any way, he just said it was time for change. But, when he started going on about reading CIA manuals and he talked about looking into military training and things like that, I became alarmed. My staff became even more alarmed and we became concerned about the safety of the teachers at the school and the safety of the community.”

Based on that, we may have just had a close brush with a Newtown tragedy of our own.

And even if we haven’t, this incident clearly illustrates the impossibility of keeping guns away from “crazy people,” as Shumlin has suggested. Davis had no history of mental illness; on the contrary, he was well-liked and respected.

And it shows that Vermont’s unique gun culture is no guarantee that it won’t happen here.  

5 thoughts on “So maybe it could happen here, after all

  1. Thanks for getting this up on GMD in a timely manner, JV.

    Poor man certainly needs some help; and it’s good to see the local community responding to warning signs in a responsible way.

    Good people sometimes do awful things when personal crisis aligns with malevolent opportunity.

  2. and he decides to get his

    “man card”

    reissued by buying himself a Bushmaster.

    For some, evidently, better than those little blue pills for boosting flagging testosterone levels or the just plain male ego.  The “man card” ad is a cornerstone of Bushmaster’s marketing efforts, as well as variations (tried and true) of “that Kenyan Muslim socialist is gonna get yore guns”.

    Threats on the internet are one thing, threats on the internet when you know the perp has a big killing machine in his storage locker, backseat of his car, or wherever is a whole nother thing.  

    Too bad Bushmaster can’t be sued for marketing its mayhem in such a disgusting manner as to appeal to the angry, the paranoid, and the troubled.

  3. peculiar to Chicago that have made it a pretty violent place since long before I was born there.

    I went to high school on the CTA and routinely saw gang signs spray painted on the buses and elevated trains.  There were neighborhoods you just didn’t enter if you didn’t belong there.

    Mobsters routinely blew up restaurants when the proprietor didn’t pay for protection.  

    The same stew of pressure-cooked middle-American heat produced some of the greatest music of our time…and Second City.

    However, that is why there are such strict gun laws in Chicago.

    Whether they are effectively enforced is another matter, entirely; but if I still lived there, I would support the effort.

  4. The Windy City does run to excess, including corruption of an industrial strength.  

    I still love the dirty little scoundrel of a place, though!

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