A Sept. 27 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh is headlined, "Ex-military to be denied gun ownership." That's wildly overstating the issue at hand; the article is about right-wing group Gun Owners of America's fight against a proposed law designed to put enforcement behind federal bans on gun ownership by those with certain mental health conditions. Nowhere does the article state that all "ex-military" would be "denied gun ownership" as the headline blares; rather, GOA head Larry Pratt is complaining that the law would bar gun ownership by "battle-scarred veteran[s] suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," without ever explaining why that's a bad thing.
Unruh went on to uncritically relate a GOA-promoted anecdote:
The GOA cited a recent Pennsylvania case to illustrate the dangers that would be presented.
It was an apparent "offhanded, tongue-in-cheek remark" made by Horatio Miller that got the case started. He allegedly said it could be "worse than Virginia Tech" if someone broke into his car, because of the guns there.
"It is not clear whether he was making a threat against a person who might burglarize his car, or if he was simply saying that the bad guy could do a lot of damage because of the guns he would find there," the GOA said.
Miller, with no criminal record and the holder of a concealed carry permit who had passed rigorous background checks, was ordered never to own or possess a gun again.
"I contacted the sheriff and had his license to carry a firearm revoked. And I asked police to commit him under Section 302 of the mental health procedures act and that was done. He is now ineligible to possess firearms [for life] because he was committed involuntarily," the district attorney reported.
"The comment Miller made was certainly not the smartest thing to say," said the GOA. "But realize, we don't incarcerate people for making stupid statements in this country – at least not yet."
In fact, Horasio Miller -- Unruh got his name wrong, apparently because GOA misspelled it -- is not unacquianted with law enforcement. From a June 23 article in the Harrisburg, Pa., Patriot-News:
It wasn't until after Horasio Miller got in trouble at Harrisburg Area Community College that his neighbors on Green Street in Susquehanna Twp. started to come forward, police said.
Miller, 42, of the 3700 block of Green Street, was committed involuntarily for a mental evaluation after a 12: 30 p.m. Tuesday incident in which Harrisburg police said they found him inside HACC's Cooper Union Building with a 9mm pistol.
Yesterday, Susquehanna Twp. police got warrants for Miller's arrest, charging him with simple assault by physical menace, theft of services and a wiretapping violation, said Police Chief Rob Martin.
Since Miller was committed, police have gotten calls from his neighbors concerning his behavior, Martin said. "In the prior weeks, they were too afraid to call," he said.
Martin said police were told Miller pointed a gun at his landlord sometime in the past few weeks.
Police also served a search warrant on Miller's apartment yesterday, where they found evidence that he had "hacked" into the telephone box at the building and was getting free service, Martin said.
He said police also recovered evidence that Miller had been listening in on phone conversations of other tenants in the building.
Martin said Miller has not been released from the mental evaluation. "Whenever he's released, he will be released right into our custody," the chief said.
Miller's apartment was so dirty that the township has deemed it unfit for human habitation, police said. "It was horrendous," Martin said. "The dirt, the filth, mold, mildew."
Tuesday's incident started when a man, identified as Miller, approached a student in the college cafeteria and said he had guns in his car, police said.
"It would be worse than Virginia Tech if someone broke into my car. I have guns in the car," Fran Chardo, Dauphin County's first assistant district attorney, said the man told the student.
That student told an armed HACC security guard, who called police and watched the man until the officers arrived, HACC spokeswoman Tracy Mendoza said.
Miller, who is not a HACC student, was taken into custody after officers found a 9 mm handgun in his backpack, police said. Police later took a handgun from his car and two firearms from his home, authorities said.
The Dauphin County district attorney's office had the county sheriff revoke the permit Miller had to carry a concealed weapon.
Susquehanna Twp. police said they have been called numerous times about Miller by neighbors, some of whom said he would walk around outside wearing holstered handguns.
Martin said his officers have been called to Miller's apartment building 22 times since 2004.
Half of those calls were made by Miller for minor reasons, such as a lost cell phone or a recovered bicycle, but Martin said the other half were neighbors' complaints about Miller.
Miller was not charged or cited in any of those incidents, Martin said.
After Miller was taken into custody, chief HACC spokesman Pat Early sent an e-mail to the college staff explaining what happened. Early said he did not tell the students or the public about the incident.
"It was something that was handled quickly, quietly. There wasn't anything to tell," Early said.
So, contrary to the GOA's assertion, Miller did not lose his gun privileges merely for making a "stupid statement," and there was a clear reason he was "committed involuntarily."
We found this information about Miller pretty easily, and even got Miller's name right. Why didn't Unruh?