Several Oregon government and law enforcement agencies are patting themselves on the back for preventing a possible mass shooting incident by sending a SWAT team to arrest a recently laid-off employee of the state’s Department of Transportation. A news release from the Medford, Oregon, police department (yes, they put out a news release announcing their good work) says the man purchased three guns after his dismissal, and that former colleagues described him as “very disgruntled.” He was taken to a mental hospital for evaluation.
The problem is that the man doesn’t appear to have committed any actual crimes. Authorities have filed no charges against him. He did recently buy three guns, but he purchased all three of them legally. A spokesman for the Oregon State Police told South Oregon’s Mail Tribune newspaper, “Instead of being reactive, we took a proactive approach.”
Now perhaps a recent layoff, the legal purchase of three guns, and concerns from former co-workers are indeed red flags that someone’s planning a rampage. And maybe this arrest really did save lives. But there’s a phrase we use to describe the sort of society where the police can come into your home, arrest you, commit you to a mental facility, and confiscate your legally-obtained property on no more than a hunch that you might commit some crime in the near future.
The article linked above is short on details. It will be interesting to see what legal authority these law enforcement agencies cited to get a search and/or arrest warrant—assuming they obtained one.