Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Another Bad Pennies Award for 2014: Andrew Tahmooressi, Montel Williams, and the NRA

I'm glad Andrew Tahmooressi is home, but he should never have been permitted to have those guns in the first place that got him arrested in Mexico.

Tahmooressi was never some heroic veteran victim, he was always an actual danger like a grenade about to go off without warning.

Conservatives called him a hero, and railed against Obama for not having him instantly release -- and unrealistic expectation.  NO president has ever accomplished such a release any more rapidly than the Obama administration did.

Montel Williams did a lot of grandstanding and crying.........ignoring that in fact the President WAS actively in contact with the Mexican government, in addition to those he appointed and directed to do so.  Of course, the president is under no obligation to inform talk show hosts of his activities, especially when those are more effective behind the scenes than in front of cameras.

In point of fact, contrary to Williams' and Andrew Tahmooressi's mother Jill's testimony, there is NO evidence that Andrew Tahmooressi was EVER mistreated in ANY way, as verified by those who visited him periodically on behalf of the U.S. government, and per Tahmooressi's own attorneys.

Bit we routinely see conservatives play fast and loose with the facts of events like this one.

What Williams did NOT explain were the reasons why Tahmooressi got in trouble -- and it was NOT due to any 'accidental crossings into Mexico'.  Nor has Williams ever addressed the dangers Andrew Tahmooressi posed to himself and others with his collection of firearms and large quantities of ammunition.

From Understanding Combat PTSD:

"On a wider scale, it is very common for individuals with PTSD to get
into fights, drive aggressively, become angry at insignificant things, and drastically
overreact to any sort of challenge.

PARANOIA – In Iraq, a paranoid soldier is a soldier who stays alive. Every item in his environment, from a pothole to a child carrying a backpack, must be regarded as a potential threat. When that same soldier, whose mind has been changed by PTSD, returns home, he is often unable to shut off his vigilant behavior. Veterans will often almost constantly “patrol” their homes to check for intruders, insist that they sit with their backs to a wall and facing the door so that they can analyze every person who enters a room, or even drive off the road in order to avoid discarded trash (because this often indicated an Improvised Explosive Device or IED in combat).

POOR COPING SKILLS - Due to the physical and mental changes Veteran with PTSD has, they are often unable to cope in what most people would consider “normal” circumstances. They are easily overwhelmed by too much noise, too many people, too many changes, or too much stimuli of any sort. Dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and all of its symptoms takes most of their energy and concentration. Anything else, especially something that is unexpected, can cause a violent reaction or simply cause the Veteran to shut down. "

PTSD causes physical changes to the brain; it is not purely emotional or psychological.

"Physical Changes

HIPPOCAMPUS - The hippocampus is a section of our brain that plays an important part in short-term memory and the regulation of our emotions. Researchers, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI’s), have been able to determine that the hippocampus of veterans with PTSD has actually suffered damage. They believe this damage may be under stress.

PREFRONTAL CORTEX – Our Prefrontal Cortex helps us decide how we experience and react to an emotion and resolve conflicts. It also tells our brain when a threat has passed.
People with PTSD have altered blood flow to this area of their brain (the more change in flow, the more severe the symptoms of PTSD). This decrease in function causes their brain to sort of be stuck in a permanent fear mode, because it doesn’t relay the “all clear” message."

That's general information; here is information specific to Tahmooressi, from the LA Times:
"Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill Tahmooressi, has been campaigning in the media for American officials to secure her son’s release. A nurse, she told Vice News that her son needs specialized treatment. She said she had observed signs of paranoia in him, and that he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder at the Veterans Affairs facility in La Jolla on March 12. She said he is “hypervigilant” and in 2013, suffered from “hunter-prey syndrome; he was the prey.”

Yeah -- THAT's NOT the kind of person you want driving around with multiple firearms and a lot of ammunition, ready to go off on some minor random provocation. It also appears that on the multiple OTHER occasions that Tahmooressi went across the border into Mexico he ALSO had those weapons with him; it was not a one-time accidental error.

And yet we have the NRA fighting AGAINST efforts to save the lives of veterans with PTSD who pose a danger to themselves and others, because to the NRA there is no one who should not be armed to the teeth at all times.

"According to Vice News, Tahmooressi entered Mexico with a 5.56mm rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a .45-caliber pistol, as well as more than 400 rounds of ammunition. The chief Mexican customs officer at the San Ysidro crossing told Vice that the guns, all loaded, were "just wrapped up in his belongings" rather than locked away and unloaded as required by California law. Vice also reported that "the rifle was found behind the driver’s seat, the shotgun on the passenger seat, and the pistol was in the driver-side door pocket, along with several cartridges.

It's pretty hard to accidentally end up in Mexico. Especially with guns. There are big signs on the U.S. side telling travelers that guns are illegal in Mexico. There’s plenty of warning that the border is approaching. ...he [Tahmooressi] admitted that he lied to Mexican officials about how many times he'd crossed the border.

And Tahmooressi apparently, knowing that it was illegal to do so, took those same guns into Mexico on those previous occasions.

There is also a question about Tahmooressi having a problem with illegal drug use, and possibly selling and distributing illegal drugs through his connections in Mexico.

If this guy is getting effective treatment for his problems, GOOD.

But he should forfeit his right to own guns in the present and future, and not only because of his PTSD, from which he may very well recover. People who suffer from PTSD should not be armed, but they should get their firearms rights returned to them when diagnosed as cured/recovered.

People who knowingly take firearms into other countries -- and from Mexico where the actual legality of his possession of those weapons is not clear -- they should not have firearms. They have demonstrated they are neither responsible, nor law abiding.

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