Shooting at Nebraska Target highlights gaps in gun laws

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Within the final three years of his life, Joseph Jones was repeatedly despatched to psychiatric hospitals due to his schizophrenia and delusions {that a} drug cartel was after him. The Nebraska man as soon as lay down on a freeway in Kansas as a result of he needed to be run over by a truck, however officers tackled him as he ran in entrance of autos. Time and time once more, his household and the police took away his weapons.

However Jones was in a position to maintain legally shopping for firearms and legislation enforcement might do little. As soon as a deputy returned a Glock pistol to him, whereas one other time a sheriff’s division confiscated his gun, though conserving it raised questions. Final month, Jones opened hearth in an Omaha Goal retailer utilizing a legally bought AR-15 rifle. Nobody was hit by Jones’ gunfire, however police shot and killed the 32-year-old as customers fled in panic.

The episode demonstrates how gun legal guidelines fail to maintain firearms out of the fingers of deeply troubled individuals, regardless of a nationwide effort to go red-flag legal guidelines in recent times.

Psychological well being consultants say most individuals with psychological sickness are usually not violent and that they’re way more more likely to be victims of violent crime. Entry to firearms is a giant a part of the issue.

“For him to be allowed to purchase a firearm, there’s no excuse for it,” Jones’ uncle, Larry Derksen Jr., stated. “It was simply inevitable that one thing was going to occur.”

In August 2021, a deputy was known as as a result of Derksen did not need to return a gun to his nephew, who had simply been launched from a psychiatric hospital. Derksen stated Jones was paranoid, had been listening to voices, and had traveled by a number of states fearing a cartel was chasing him, in keeping with a Sarpy County Sheriff’s Workplace incident report.

However Jones instructed the deputy that he was taking treatment, he felt tremendous and had no plans to harm anybody. The gun was clear, and the one conviction Jones had was for a DUI after he collided with one other car on his means dwelling from a bar years earlier.

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“I had no purpose,” the deputy wrote within the report, “to consider Joseph couldn’t possess a firearm.”

Nebraska is not among the many 19 states with a red-flag legislation. Also referred to as excessive danger safety orders, they’re meant to limit the acquisition of weapons or quickly take away them from individuals who might harm themselves or another person.

A red-flag legislation has been proposed for Nebraska this 12 months, but it surely hasn’t acquired a legislative listening to but.

“It is a sort of instance screaming out for an excessive danger safety order,” stated Kris Brown, the president of the Brady Heart to Stop Gun Violence. “It truly breaks my coronary heart that that didn’t occur right here.”

Federal legislation has banned some mentally unwell individuals from shopping for weapons since 1968, together with these deemed a hazard to themselves or others, who’ve been involuntarily dedicated, or judged not responsible by purpose of madness or incompetent to face trial.

Nevertheless it units what Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokesman John Ham described as a “very excessive bar.” To ensure that somebody’s identify to be submitted to the FBI for inclusion within the Nationwide Immediate Prison Background Examine System, they have to bear a listening to through which they’re deemed unable to maintain their private enterprise due to psychological sickness.

The legislation describes it as being “adjudicated as a psychological faulty.” Each state has a special course of, however the a number of three-day involuntary commitments that Jones’ household and legislation enforcement information described did not set off such a listening to.

A few years in the past, Jones’ household was so determined that they thought of going by the method. They’re conversant in among the courtroom processes as a result of Jones’ mom additionally has schizophrenia, is low functioning and needed to be dedicated to a gaggle dwelling.

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However they determined to not pursue that as a result of they have been in a position to persuade legislation enforcement to intervene and get Jones right into a psychological hospital.

In November 2021, the household reported that Jones was threatening his grandmother and asking for a handgun that his uncle was storing so he might kill himself, in keeping with a report from the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Workplace.

His grandmother, who was so frightened that she hid, instructed deputies that her grandson would “be tremendous for a couple of days” however then would “take a flip for the more severe” as he resumed consuming and utilizing the unregulated plant-based painkiller kratom, and presumably different medication.

Deputies handcuffed Jones and took him to a hospital for analysis. Derksen stated the household thought the hospitalization would have the identical impact as going by a proper listening to. Docs can provoke the listening to course of, however there is no such thing as a report that any did, stated Bonnie Moore, chief deputy Sarpy County legal professional.

At the moment, Derksen requested the deputies to take the handgun into safekeeping. Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis stated his division by no means returned the gun, though Jones repeatedly requested for it.

“By the letter of the legislation, some would say that it’s a violation of his Second Modification rights possibly to take his weapon. However we have now all the time erred on the facet of warning,” Davis stated, noting that the circumstances surrounding the elimination of the gun have been far more alarming than when a deputy returned the firearm.

The issues solely escalated. In June 2022, Jones’ grandmother reported him lacking, saying he had stopped taking his schizophrenia treatment months earlier. His employer, a storage door firm, stated he was not displaying up for work.

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Legislation enforcement discovered him in Kansas, the place he had laid down on an interstate within the Emporia space, telling officers he needed to be “ran over by a semi,” the Sarpy County incident report stated.

Derksen stated one of many first issues Jones did after he returned from Kansas was go to a Cabela’s retailer and purchase a shotgun. The household took that gun, as they’d others. Derksen’s leverage was that he owned the duplex the place Jones stayed along with his grandmother.

Not too long ago, Jones had known as the FBI to report some type of harassment, his uncle stated; the company stated it couldn’t focus on particular calls.

Police have not stated why Jones entered the Goal with 13 loaded rifle magazines and fired a number of rounds. Derksen stated he believes his nephew did not need to perform a mass taking pictures, however as an alternative needed police to kill him. He stated his nephew had delusions that the cartel would harm his household if he didn’t kill himself.

A timeline launched by police made no point out of Jones firing straight at clients or employees. As an alternative, he fired his AR-15 fashion rifle within the air and at inanimate objects together with a self-checkout and a drink cooler. Authorities ordered him to drop the gun greater than 20 occasions, and after Jones stated “I’ll kill you!” he was shot as soon as.

“We do actually really feel unhealthy for the individuals who have been traumatized at Goal and even for the legislation enforcement officer who was pressured to take that shot,” Derksen stated. “We all know they did what they needed to do. It simply ought to have by no means been in a position to get there.”


Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas. Lindsay Whitehurst in Washington, D.C., and Bernard Condon in New York contributed to this report.