How a bat-sh*t crazy guy was allowed to buy an arsenal

Long story short: 14 year old nutjob of a kid kills his mom, goes to a state hospital for the dangerously mentally ill, gets out, is permitted to buy a veritable arsenal.  Still beyond nutters.

From the Star Tribune:

What Olson’s deputies found in the home in Watertown Township was chilling: 13 guns, including semi-automatic rifles, an AK-47, a Tommy gun, assorted shotguns and handguns, including a .50-caliber Desert Eagle.

Even more disturbing was the letter Oberender had written recently to his late mother, Mary: “I am so homicide,” it said in broken sentences. “I think about killing all the time. The monster want out. He only been out one time and someone die.”

Even though Oberender killed his mother with a firearm, even though he was committed to the state hospital in St. Peter as mentally ill and dangerous more than a decade ago, he was able to obtain a permit to purchase firearms last May. That piece of paper gave Oberender, now 32, the ability to walk into any licensed Minnesota retailer and buy any assault weapon or pistol on the rack.

“The system failed in this case,” Olson said in an interview.

Ya think?

The Star Tribune did a great job walking you through how this maniac was able to buy enough firepower to take on a modern army – he had a Tommy gun, which is one of those Eliot Ness, Al Capon style submachine guns.  This is a Tommy Gun:

tommy gun

Tommy Gun via Shutterstock.

Why is any permitted to buy something like this, let alone a crazy guy who’s already murdered his mother?

Read the entire story, and weep.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • lynchie

    Out where?

  • lynchie

    These countries you mentioned are prepared for war. We are constantly at war. We in america love the idea of bombing some brown skinned person and then wrapping the flag around ourselves. Sweden hasn’t waged a war since 1814 so i don’t know what your talking about.

  • Though the degree to which we admire soldiers and glorify war is almost certainly out of proportion to what is healthy for a society it is absolutely not true that we are the only country that does this. Take a look at North Korea, or even Egypt. Certainly Israel is very big on their ability to wage war, as is Iran or even Sweden. The point is that glorifying war has been a big part of many cultures since the beginning of time. We do it because war is scary and we want soldiers to think that the risk is worth it. At the same time we also want our citizens to believe that our military is powerful enough to defend us against any threat.

  • Ajay Prasad

    This is absolutely outrageous. How
    can buying of such weapons be allowed to anyone, let alone to a deranged person
    who showed clear signs of a maniac and killed his own mother! Should such a
    mentally ill person even be out on our streets, posing danger to so many
    others? I am made to wonder about these gaps in our system.

  • EdHandy

    Already illegal in California, as noted on the page, and I’d certainly support a federal ban on those (and other ridiculous attempts to get around the rules on fully automatic weapons things like the “bump fire” stock Bill From Dover mentions below.)

  • EdHandy

    The same thing as pretty much any other cartridge, a few very light rim fire ones excepted… although the odds of actually getting someone there are a lot lower with an idiot’s “spray and pray” weapon (or use of any weapon in that manner) than with someone aiming.

    If I’m blocks away, a stray rifle bullet is a lot more dangerous than a stray pistol bullet. Otherwise, there’s little difference.

  • EdHandy

    The 1911 was replaced by 9mm around 20 years ago.

    It’s a perfectly fine handgun round, but it’s not substantially different in effectiveness than any other modern, full-power handgun round (compared to most of the lighter ones that were more typical at the turn of the 20th would be another matter.)

    At handgun ranges, it’s also not substantially more/less deadly than a faster but smaller assault rifle round, although it IS easier to armor against it (hence the movement by certain folks to 5.7mm, or the fondness of a few gun nuts for the old 7.62×25) and the assault rifle round has a much longer effective range. Plus 100 rounds of .45 are heavier than 100 rounds of .223 (not sure about 7.62×39… both would be heavier than I’d want to carry around.)

    Want to ban 100 rounds drum magazines? Fine by me; they already are in California, where I live.

  • EdHandy

    The same would be true of any other similarly-sized carbine… or a whole bunch of handguns (as turned out to be used in Sandy Hook)… while a a fully automatic version would be much more dangerous.

    If people on the left (my side, with the exception of the gun issue) are going to over-react to a /specific model of gun/ as John did above, expect hair-splitting. I certainly wouldn’t understate the danger of this guy getting guns, but given the choice between him having a Thompson, or AK-47 (assuming it’s a civilianized one) or the “assorted handguns”… the “assorted handguns” are going to worry me a lot more, due to their ease of concealment.

  • UncleBucky

    Explain. I said we are the current best example of racism and bigotry, since we LET those with the loudest voices get the last word. Now, there are quite a lot of people, a majority in fact, who aren’t that racist or bigoted or not even racist or bigoted at all. Their voices are not as loud, and therefore they are not desirable by the media (the conservative media, btw, since it’s corporately owned) for headlines, pictures, and stories. Of course there are exceptions.

    I do believe we have a very stubborn strain of racism and bigotry. Just nip into James Loewen’s site and Douglas Blackmon’s book, ” Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II.”



    I am not related to the authors or their publishers, but only an avid reader and darned determined bearer of self-replicating memes.

  • Gee, yet another “gun master” without the intelligence of a rock…

  • yeah? who cares….how many is too much???

  • RationalLogic

    Why not? The logic for either side of the argument would apply for all weapons, as this only a semi-automatic Tommy Gun.

  • RationalLogic

    Is this some sort of retarded, fantasy reverse-McCartyism?

  • RationalLogic

    The NRA has no interest in those things, only protecting the 2nd Amendment. It is those in Washington who are interested in perpetual war and permanent militarization, if you had been paying any attention for the last YOUR WHOLE LIFE.

  • RationalLogic

    “Why is any permitted to buy something like this, let alone a crazy guy who’s already murdered his mother?”

    Why shouldn’t a law abiding, sane person be able to own one? While you, author, may have homicidal thoughts you worry others may share, not everyone is like you and does not need the government to prevent them from doing bad things by banning everything dangerous.

    His “Tommy Gun” was not areal “Tommy Gun” because it wasn’t fully automatic. And, if it was, then he obtained it illegally. So, calm down with your psychotic hyperbole and live in the realm of reason and facts, not that dramatic, irrational, and FUD based reality you are obsessed with.

    For all the other ignorant people, stop using the term “assault weapon” because it is a political term based on firearm cosmetics and is useless for describing firearms of any kind. The only real term that has “assault” in the name is “assault rifle”, which are actual “military type” (another political and largely useless phrase) select fire weapons that can be fired in fully automatic mode, earning them the name, “machine guns”.

    The AK-47 in the article is also not fully automatic, and just like any other rifle that is semi automatic, or it was obtained illegally.

  • hoebag

    for every person like this there is hundreds of thousands of gun owners out there who never hurt anybody

  • Dickweed

    Ever shot one? Those things are crap. Spray and pray. They look great, but the M3 Grease gun or a UMP .45 are far, far more accurate weapons. I would be much more worried about the AK this guy had than any Tommy Gun replica. Also, the M1911 was replaced by the Beretta M9 in 1985 (but lots of personnel still carry the Colt anyway).

  • Dickweed

    Not if you’ve ever shot one of the damn things – they’re totally inaccurate and far too heavy – especially with that drum magazine. Which is why the U.S. ditched the drum mag in WWII and replaced it with stick mags – and then replaced the whole damn thing with the more accurate M3 “grease gun”. Honestly, I’m far more concerned that this guy got his hands on an AK-47 – it’s much more accurate and efficient killing machine with a bigger round and an effective range up to 300 yards. The tommy gun is for show, but the AK-47 was the most efficient killing machine of the 20th century – and this nut shouldn’t have gotten his hands on either one.

  • Rick Roller

    Movies and television – Tommy guns are prized by collectors because Hollywood always needs to rent them out for gangster movies.

  • Dickweed

    I’m not so worried about the Tommy Gun – those things are too unwieldy and wildly inaccurate and mostly for show. The AK-47 on the other hand, scares the crap out of me – that was the most efficient killing machine of the 20th century and has no business in civilian hands.

  • Norma

    Did you read the story??? He committed his first murder at 14. He’s now 32. He was committed to the mental hospital more than 10 years ago, according to the story.

  • The voters tend to think sometimes that government programs and actions don’t require funding. Even in government, you get exactly what you pay for. If you don’t pay for police, an effective legal system, etc., then you don’t get an effective one. If you cut employees, cut budgets, drop salaries, and fail to provide adequate tools, the work cannot get done, as you pointed out. All of this costs money, and the public tends to forget this with alarming regularity.

  • There are more than a few things wrong with this story.
    #1. a 14 year old cannot by federal law buy ANY of these firearms. A single purchase breaks multiple federal law not to mention state laws. Each purchase is a seperate list of federal violations.
    #2. My guess is that we are talking between $15,000 and $25,000 for these firearms. We are talking, so where does a 14 year old get the money?
    #3. IF the Thompson is a genuine full auto that alone would be worth $30,000 plus. I’d guess it is a semi auto replica of the orginal – which prior to 1934 were available mail order. There are probably thousands of them still out there in barns and closets.

  • lynchie I really think you need to get out more often!

  • Thanks to NRA-crafted legislation like the Tiahart Amendment, stuff like this continues to happen, even as the NRA insists that we should keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill (and NO ONE on either side of the debate has contemplated exactly what it means to be too mentally ill to own a gun, and what it would mean in terms of medical confidentiality and equal protection under the 14th amendment to track the psychiatric diagnoses of people). The NRA insists that the federal government enforce existing laws, while not endorsing the repealing of things like the Tiahart Amendment which ties the hands of the ATF. You couldn’t hope to distill and bottle a purer form of hypocrisy than that.

  • I don’t think his question was where, but why. Other than maybe in a museum display what would you use it for so why manufacture something so outdated?

  • BradleyHart

    The system failed not because it is flawed, it failed because tax payers are allowed to vote on whether they will pay for the work that needs to be done. When you cut the police department and prosecutor’s office support staff, then refuse to pay overtime, then follow it up by cutting more employees, the work simply doesn’t get done, paperwork gets lost, and we end up with this and tens of thousands of other little things that turn into huge problems later on that could have been prevented if someone had spent the money go get the work done. The files that would have flagged this guy would probably have been transferred to a database sometime in the next five or six years at the rate most departments are able to transfer old hard copy to digital databases. If you want to point fingers point it at voters who demand services, but are unwilling to pay for them.

  • UncleBucky

    Hah. And if THEY do it again, I hope it works out just as well for the leaders, but much better for the people they dragged along with them for a bloody, hungry and desperate 4+ years. Sherman had to crush the CSA government, but he also rammed through people who had no choice but be part of the Confederacy.

    ANYONE who has Neo-Confederate leanings is a traitor in the making. And those who espouse too much 2nd Amendment rights, states’ rights, libertarian ideals and individualist-over-community ideals is a suspect of being a “Neo-Confederate” and I don’t give them a millimeter of chance. We have given them kilometers of space and consideration and look what almost happened again. NO WAY.

    Neo-Confederates and all their confederates are on “my list”, as in the Mikado List Song.

  • UncleBucky

    I s’pose so….

  • pappyvet

    Couldn’t agree more UncleBucky, the hate speak and propaganda that has been vomited forth over the past 2 decades found willing addicts waiting for it.

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    They sell a crank mechanism in the gun magazines that effectively turns a semi-auto into a full automatic weapon. see:

  • Naja pallida

    The effective range of a Thompson is still around 35 yards. Combine that with a 100 round drum magazine… seems to me, full auto or not, either way, it would be an extremely effective tool for someone who was inclined to commit mass murder in any area where a lot of people congregated. No point in splitting hairs.

  • As an American he has the right to be completely wacko. Our country has a proud heritage of putting wackos into positions of power and influence.

  • xlrrp

    Worked out well for the Confederacy, didn’t it.

  • xlrrp

    Slow/fat. A slow fat pistol cartridge like .45acp will blow your arm off at close range, not to mention what damage it will do to your chest where it goes in and your back where it comes out. Got any idea why the Colt 1911 was the side arm of choice for the US Army for the last 100 years?

    The tommy gun pictured is semi automatic, and fires rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger. Let’s say you can pull the trigger 5 times a second. How many rounds is that to empty a 100 round drum. I’d say if a deranged person like this guy wanted to spray a crowded area, it’d be pretty lethal to everyone unlucky enough to be hit.

  • FuzzyRabbit

    You can find anything on the internet: Tommy guns

  • UncleBucky

    How do you feel now? Dirty, after that channeling? :) If you haven’t already, take a shower and some vitamins! :D:D Oh, dear, 4 million NRAers against 320+ million US people who are sick of this!

  • UncleBucky

    Oh, there HAVE BEEN others*! :) But we are the current best example!

    * History shows us many cultures that were based on erradicating, reducing and/or enslaving subjugated peoples. My history teacher told us of ramps made of human heads built over city walls, on which the conquering king walked into the conquered city.

    I think of the book “Postman” and the violent mercenaries that are simply waiting to emerge (like the alien bursting bloodily through the victim’s body in the film “Alien”) after they destroy the Federal and any other government they feel is constraining them.

    It’s a cancer on our Nation, just like the cancer of the Confederacy 150 years ago. Cancer coming back, baby…!

  • UncleBucky

    Making “mistakes” like Sandy Creek simply collateral damage. Thank you, NRA… meh! But remember, Wayne LaPierre and all gun nuts, karma is sweet with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

  • UncleBucky

    Tommy guns. WHO USES TOMMY GUNS anymore? Do police departments use these? Should they?

    Bend, break, and melt all but the essential (I bet they are not) tommy guns in police, military and CIA.

    And the $64 question (that cheap because guns, killer weapons, can be bought dirt cheap) is WHO MANUFACTURES TOMMY GUNS anymore?

  • lynchie

    We are the only country which glorifies war and the killing of others.

  • Nah, it has to be a fake just like this non-automatic AR-15 bump-firing video… yes?

    And what happens when this relatively slow/fat pistol cartridge accidentally catches a bystander between the eyes?

  • FuzzyRabbit

    Why all the fuss about this. His constitutional right to keep and bear arms was not infringed. Now if they take away his guns, that would be an outrage.

  • EdHandy

    Is that a real Tommy Gun (which requires a relatively difficult-to-get federal license to own, and are incredibly expensive) or one of the modern civilian replicas, which are not automatic? The latter are still expensive, and are pretty useless for hunting, but they’re not inherently any more dangerous than any other carbine (somewhat less so to bystanders as the range on a relatively slow/fat pistol cartridge will be shorter than a rifle cartridge with the same energy.)

  • Naja pallida

    The NRA doesn’t care if someone like this gets guns. Their goal is to allow the free manufacture, movement and sale of arms and ammunition. The state of perpetual war, and permanent militarization of our society is their bread and butter. One crazy guy killing people to them is just another justification for arming more people.

  • paulo

    Despite what the NRA says it is rarely the a priori total nut job that causes the mayhem. Total nut Jobness is bestowed after the fact because: Guns don’t kill people Total Nut Jobs Kill people.

  • judybrowni

    But according to the NRA, responsible gun regulation is a no, no, no, no!

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