Sep 11, 2019 by

9.11.19 – Waco Tribune-Herald

[COMMENTS FROM DONNA GARNER:  It may well be that the Odessa shooter purchased his gun “stranger-to-stranger” which is exactly the reason that Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants to expand background checks on the 10% of guns sold from stranger-to-stranger (those involved in 80% of gun crimes). If a person wants to sell a gun to a stranger, then go to a gun store and fill out the background check form. If all is well, then the deal can be closed. To me, this sounds like a sensible plan that does not infringe upon our Second Amendment rights.

Please see my comments posted at the bottom of this page that are directed at the naysayers who are objecting to Lt. Gov. Patrick’s proposal.]


“Records: Odessa gunman’s 2001 incident in Waco area showed ‘suicidal tendencies’”

  • By JAKE BLEIBERG Associated Press

Excerpts from this article:

DALLAS — The gunman who killed seven people in West Texas over Labor Day weekend was arrested in 2001 for trying to break into a woman’s bedroom after threatening to kill her brother, and hospital staff later determined he had “suicidal tendencies,” according to arrest reports obtained by the Associated Press.

A day after the attempted break-in, Seth Ator, then 18, jumped from a second-floor window to evade authorities in Waco. He was eventually taken into custody and hospitalized, the documents show.

It is unclear whether the events nearly two decades ago in Lorena, a Waco suburb, have any bearing on the Aug. 31 mass shooting that stretched from Midland to Odessa, some 350 miles away. It also is unknown whether the hospitalization affected a federal background check that a law enforcement official said blocked Ator from buying a gun in 2014 because of a “mental health issue.”

But reports from the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office obtained through a public records request portray a young man who was deeply troubled 18 years before authorities say he opened fire in a rolling rampage that spanned 10 miles.

Officers killed Ator, 36, outside a busy Odessa movie theater after shootings that lasted more than an hour and injured around two dozen people in addition to the dead.

Investigators are looking into how Ator obtained the assault-style rifle he used despite failing a background check. Last week, they searched the home of a man in Lubbock, who they believe was involved in the “transfer” of the weapon, a federal law enforcement official previously told the AP. The official said federal agents are investigating whether the Lubbock man has been manufacturing firearms but that there have been no arrests.

Through high school, Ator moved between schools in the Texas Panhandle city of Amarillo and Lorena. He was set to graduate in 2001 but dropped out the preceding November to enroll in a GED program, Lorena Independent School District Superintendent Joe Kucera said in a statement.

The following summer, a family in Lorena, a community with a population of about 1,700 people, had a “series of problems” with Ator based on his “relationship” with their daughter, the sheriff’s reports state. The AP is not naming the family because attempts to reach them were unsuccessful.

In July 2001, the mother of the family told a deputy that Ator threatened to kill her son. The next month, Ator tried to break into the daughter’s bedroom around 3:30 a.m., removing a window screen “in an attempt to contact her,” according to the reports. The daughter told Detective Mylie Hudson that she woke up and then saw Ator driving away in his father’s vehicle.

The next day, officers found Ator locked inside a bedroom at a Waco apartment where his friends lived. As the officers knocked on the door and tried to get Ator to unlock it, he opened a bedroom window and jumped to the ground two stories below, the reports state. Hudson wrote that he and other officers searched the apartment complex’s grounds but could not find Ator.

The following day, the reports state, officers arrested Ator at another building for criminal trespass and a “suicide threat.” He was then taken to a local emergency room.

Staff at the hospital’s psychiatric and drug abuse facility evaluated Ator, and an officer at the county jail was informed of Ator’s “suicidal tendencies” when he was moved to the jail that day, according to the reports. Ator’s parents also told deputies their son had threatened and tried to take his own life, the reports say.

…Ator eventually pleaded guilty to evading arrest and criminal trespass. Court records indicate he was ordered to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings as part of his probation…

The misdemeanors themselves would not have prevented Ator from legally purchasing firearms in Texas.

Federal law stipulates a limited number of reasons why someone would be prohibited from buying or having a gun. Among them are if the person has been convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year in prison, has a substance abuse addiction, was dishonorably discharged from the military, was convicted of domestic violence or was the subject of a restraining order, or if they have been involuntarily committed for a mental health issue.

FBI records show that in 2018 more than 26 million background checks were conducted, and fewer than 100,000 people failed. The vast majority of those denied were for a criminal conviction. Just over 6,000 were rejected for a mental health issue…



I am certainly no expert by any means about gun sales and the laws involved although many of my family members are licensed to carry; and all of us support the Second Amendment. We, along with the rest of our country, are also very worried and deeply troubled about the violence/heartbreak of the mass shootings occurring in our country.  

What I am relying upon is common sense in the debate over this gun violence issue.

I think that it is always difficult-if-not-impossible to trust the statements that come from criminals, and that is why going by data alone (e.g., Dept. of Justice who interviewed prisoners) is probably not altogether valid. I also do not particularly trust surveys because of the way the questions can be worded to illicit certain responses.

Just using common sense tells me that for a stranger to sell a gun to a stranger is a really bad idea. If the statistic of 10% stranger-to-stranger guns sales is even close to being correct, it makes sense that people who are emotionally/psychologically imbalanced and/or are determined to commit mass murders would utilize this means. 

It also sounds reasonable to me that these are the very people (perhaps 80% involved in gun crimes) who need to be stopped from purchasing these guns.

The question is then: “How do we stop this type of stranger-to-stranger sales?”  Lt. Gov. Patrick stated, “I would never sell a gun to a stranger, and I don’t think any responsible gun owner would either.”

I have heard the NRA and others’ complaints about Lt. Gov. Patrick’s proposal: “What I am proposing is that anyone who wants to sell a gun to a stranger simply go to a gun store and fill out the background check form.  Then the gun can be exchanged and the deal is closed.”

However, what I do NOT hear is legitimate recommendations about how to stop such “stranger-to-stranger” gun sales.  In other words, how do we stop unstable/vicious killers (who could not pass a background check) from purchasing a gun by going to someone who knows nothing about that person’s background?  

I hear the naysayers and understand their concerns, but where are their specific, workable recommendations to stop these “stranger-to-stranger” gun sales?

The “stranger-to-stranger” gun sales recommendation from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is certainly not the only one (nor should it be) that he and the other Texas Senate committee members are studying because as he stated, there are dozens of other steps they are trying to take to reduce these horrible mass shootings while at the same time protecting our Second Amendment rights.  

Let’s share our specific, sensible, and workable recommendations with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Senate Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety.

Here are the names of the members:

Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston, will serve as chair of the committee. Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, will serve as vice chair. Members include: Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, and Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston.

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