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Gun control

Elliot Rodger could not be stopped because 'being sad is not a crime'

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In the wake of the Isla Vista shooting on Friday that left six people dead and 13 injured, the Los Angeles Times offers thoughtful analysis on why 22-year-old alleged shooter Elliot Rodger was able to avoid police intervention.

Rodger, his family says, was somewhere on the autism spectrum. And yes, he had been in therapy since he was a child. He had also become increasingly isolated after his 18th birthday, rejecting the mental health care his family provided. And yes, he was even recently questioned by police after an altercation with UC Santa Barbara students that left him with an injured ankle. But officials say there was nothing about the incident that would have prompted authorities to follow up with Rodger. And therein lies the problem.

Critics say the teenager left plenty of clues. But, despite Rodger's troubles, the lonely young man simply flew under the radar, appearing to his peers as only terribly sad. The Los Angeles Times continues:

And being sad is not a crime, nor the sort of mental state that would, alone, cross a legal threshold requiring official response.The mental health system is imperfect, by design — a teeter-totter that weighs patients' civil liberties against public safety. Rodger existed in the middle, on the fulcrum, simmering and disturbed, just beyond arm's reach.

In that quiet space he planned his attack — lonely, but highly functioning; worrisome, but never explicitly threatening himself or anyone else; bumping into police, but never landing in jail; resistant to medication, but never outright rejecting care; able to articulate his misery, but conniving enough that authorities did not see a need for involuntary hospitalization. [Los Angeles Times]

Simply put: There was nothing in Rodger's background to prevent him from purchasing a weapon.