William Patrick Williams is a 19 year old man from Lubbock Texas. In July, he bought an AK-47 that he planned to use to shoot up a hotel, killing others until he killed himself, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Norther District of Texas. Instead, Williams called his grandmother from the hotel. Grandma intervened. She was able to persuade the young man to hold off until talking to her. Then, she persuaded him to allow her to take him to the hospital, where she signed off on committing him as a danger to himself and others. This was no cry for help. Per NBC News: When police searched his hotel room the hotel room Williams had rented, they found the weapon he had told his grandmother he possessed, along with 17 loaded magazines, and multiple knives. They also found black tactical pants, a black trench coat and a black T-shirt that read “Let ‘Em Come.” “This was a tragedy averted,” said U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox. “I want to praise the defendant’s grandmother, who saved lives by interrupting this plot.” Let us all praise a true hero, grandma. I have little doubt that any one of the families of this weekends shooters would have done the same thing in her position, but that does not take away from what she did. Apparently, Williams was not truthful in his application for the guns. After looking into the forms Williams filled out to purchase the weapon, police said he appeared to list false information on the forms and allegedly misrepresented his address. On Thursday, he was arrested by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI for making false statements to a firearms dealer. Making false statements to a firearms dealer might well warrant more than five years in some circumstances, though I am not sure that a judge should impose prison time in this case. IAAAL (I actually am a lawyer) and I have dealt with criminals from both sides. The U.S. Attorney’s office was right to charge the crime. They need to enforce this law. However, given the attendant circumstances, the mental illness and the intervention by family, I would be very hesitant as a judge to impose serving actual prison time. No question, he should be “sentenced” to five years prison time, but I would suspend all of it. Hear me out. First consideration is the obvious poor mental health situation. We in this nation do not criminalize mental illness. The El Paso shooter gave himself up, he was not suicidal, just filled with rage, something we DO criminalize. This man wanted to die, his manner of suicide brought on the attention, and all intendent circumstances. I might well require him to spend a year in a psychiatric institution, then hold him until cleared by at least two physicians, but I would not send him immediately to prison. Apparently, he retained enough sanity to agree with grandma. Second, and this is key, we do not want a policy whereby potential mass murderers are afraid to turn themselves in because they do not want to go to prison for multiple years. We want to encourage people to turn themselves in. I favor a policy of a suspended five year sentences provided a person first declares that they were untruthful in […]
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Sometimes people in Washington get it plain wrong!
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