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Police crime tape is seen around the area where children’s bicycles and baby strollers stand near the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, on July 4, 2022. | Source: YOUNGRAE KIM / Getty

Sometimes it really just seems like America simply has no interest in preventing mass shootings. If it means restricting access to guns for virtually anyone, it just isn’t worth it.

It turns out that 21-year-old  Robert E. Crimo III, the “person of interest” in the deadly Highland Park shooting that killed seven people and wounded dozens, was known to the local police because, in 2019, they were called to his home after someone reported that he tried to kill himself. A few months later, officers then came to his home again and seized a collection of 16 knives, a dagger and a sword after a family member reported that he threatened to “kill everyone.” Three months after that, Crimo applied for a gun permit, which was ultimately approved freeing him up to “legally buy several guns in Illinois, including a high-powered rifle that officials said was used in the attack on Monday in Highland Park,” according to the New York Times.

MORE: The History Of America’s Sick And Twisted Infatuation With Guns

From the Times:

The details of those prior police visits raised questions about whether the Illinois authorities missed opportunities to use their relatively strict firearm laws to block Mr. Crimo’s gun purchases, and about whether a newly signed federal gun law might have made a difference had it been in force earlier. In a statement, the Illinois State Police defended its decision to grant Mr. Crimo a permit to own a gun, which he applied for in December 2019, three months after the police took the knives from his home.

The Times also reported that Illinois’ gun laws “require a permit to own a weapon” and “include a red flag provision that allows law enforcement to seize weapons from people deemed dangerous.” So how strict could the laws be if there’s no red flag provision for the permit to purchase guns in the first place?

The authorities in Highland Park noted that Crimo didn’t have a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) at the time the knives were taken from his home, so they’ve determined he applied for and received the permit from the State Police. Of course, the State Police defended its decision to grant the permit saying that “at the time of FOID application review in January of 2020, there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application.”


Look, I’m just going to say it—maybe it’s because Crimo is white. Also, maybe it’s just white America’s obsession with guns. After all, Crimo’s own father sponsored his application for the permit, according to the Times. Imagine your son tried to kill himself and then later threatened to kill everyone, and that same year you think, “Eh—maybe it’s time he’s able to legally purchase all the guns he wants.”

As for the federal law that some believe might have prevented Crimo from legally purchasing firearms if it had been passed sooner, it was passed in the wake of the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings, and it “enhances background checks for buyers ages 18 to 21, requiring for the first time that juvenile records, including mental health records beginning at age 16, be vetted for material that identifies young buyers as a danger to themselves or others,” the Times reported.

Sure, that might have worked. But then again, there might simply be no laws strict enough to override white privilege and America’s gun obsession.


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