Friday, April 20, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: An out-of-control gun owner strikes again, this time in Hillsborough

It was just a short little story, seven brief paragraphs, at best quickly perused and just as quickly forgotten about, especially considering the other more dramatic news of the day.

For on the same day Kristen Craig stopped her Ford F-150 before a traffic light at U.S. 301 and Causeway Boulevard, Aaron Alexis was shooting 12 people to death at the Washington Navy Yard. But the day was no less terrifying for Craig and, more notably, her passenger, William Seago.

As Craig sat at the stoplight, a man with a gun approached the passenger side of her truck and opened fire, hitting Seago in the arm, chest and leg before getting into his SUV and driving away.

The only reason Craig could conclude for the assault was that perhaps she had inadvertently cut off the other driver in traffic. This apparently warrants the death penalty in Hillsborough County, although Seago is expected to fully recover from his injuries.

A simple question. By now we've learned that you don't need to be Sigmund Freud to figure out Alexis was certainly a candidate for being considered certifiably insane. After all, this chap believed he heard voices coming from a microwave. But don't you also have to be completely loony tunes to feel you somehow are justified in attempting to murder two people over a roadway boo-boo?

What would we call this? "Stand your clown"?

The good news is law enforcement officials were finally able to kill Alexis before the bloodbath became even more deadly. The bad news is the vehicular vigilante with Sonny Corleone anger management issues is still out there on the roadway making plans to set things straight the next time someone in front of him fails to properly use a turn signal. And, of course, he still has a gun.

It is poetic irony the O.K. Corral-on-the-Causeway moment occurred not all that far from the ditzy, massive Confederate flag flying over Interstate 4 and Interstate 275, proudly announcing for all the world to see that little old Hillsborough County is the uber-goober capital of the great state of Flor-i-DUCK!

And what better manifestation of some of the locals' penchant for Deliverance-esque yahoo behavior than shooting someone over a traffic dispute. Indeed, making matters even more absurdist, especially for Mr. Seago, is that the gunman risked a first-degree murder charge and at least life in prison for shooting the wrong person!

Now there's an "I coulda had a V-8 meets a Glock!" moment for you.

It would be some small comfort to think that perhaps this bizarre attack on Craig and Seago was merely a rare, isolated incident involving a bumpkin with all the functioning brain cells of an oat bag and way too many bullets.

But we know that is a fool's errand. We know that because we live here. And we know instinctively that at any given moment as we drive around our fair hamlet, it is entirely possible we are also sharing the road with an armed and paranoid and easily aggrieved Billy Bob Billy Joe Billy Ray Billy Clyde and his cousin-half brother Mongo.

Not puckered enough yet?

Consider this. If law enforcement somehow gets lucky and eventually tracks down and arrests the man who tried to murder two people over a banal traffic misunderstanding, what do you think the odds are we'll learn this thug purchased his weapon in a perfectly legal transaction?

That's because — alas and a sigh — background checks don't account for stupidity.

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