He saw something. Then he said something. And another mass shooting might have been averted.
Unlike the politically correct Florida authorities who did nothing to stop the mentally deranged Parkland killer despite numerous warnings, New York gun shop owner John Laubscher acted when a prospective firearm buyer made, as he put it, the hair “stand up on the back of his neck.”
Laubscher, proprietor of The Gun Store in Nelson, NY, knew something was wrong soon after 22-year-old Chinese national Xiaoteng Zhan entered his establishment last month. On the surface, it wasn’t surprising that Zhan, a Syracuse University (SU) undergraduate in the US on a student visa, wanted a gun. As Syracuse.com reported April 6:
Foreign SU students were regular customers for Laubscher’s archery business. And he knew a non-citizen could get a gun with a valid hunting permit.
But in talking to Zhan, Laubscher said the hair began to stand up on the back of his neck.
“This guy’s on the edge,” Laubscher thought.
Laubscher not only refused to sell Zhan a firearm, but he also followed the student into the parking lot, copied his license plate number, and reported his suspicions to authorities. This led to an investigation that revealed Zhan had already threatened to commit gun violence. As a consequence, the student was deported back to China March 20. Laubscher is now being hailed as a hero.
What tipped Laubscher off? Syracuse.com writes that “Zhan wanted an AR-style rifle — the weapon of choice in recent mass shootings nationwide.” (What the mainstream media don’t point out, sometimes due to ignorance, is that one reason ARs are relatively common in mass shootings is because they’re common period: They’re by far the best-selling rifles in America.)
Syracuse.com also states that the kind of AR (which stands for “Armalite Rifle,” after the company that originated the weapon, not “assault rifle”) Zhan wanted wasn’t available in New York; this would simply mean, however, that the student wanted a firearm replete with bells and whistles — certain cosmetic features. In reality, New York’s deceptive and propagandistic SAFE Act gun-control law doesn’t prohibit the selling of ARs; it only mandates that the ones sold must have a somewhat less military-style appearance.
Regardless, at this point Zhan’s interest turned to high-capacity shotguns; these are far more effective when perpetrating mass shootings, which generally involve attacking soft targets at close range. Zhan produced a hunting license to show that he could lawfully buy a firearm, but this didn’t allay Laubscher’s suspicions. As Syracuse.com further informed:
[I]t wasn’t hunting season. Turkey season was coming up, but the high-capacity shotguns that Zhan wanted wouldn’t be the best choice for hunting, anyway, Laubscher said.
Couple that with the fact that Zhan had just gotten the license, which required completing a hard-to-reserve gun safety course, and Laubscher was becoming concerned.
It’s what happened after that, though, that Laubscher said set off warnings “like fireworks on the Fourth of July.”
Zhan said that he didn't know how to use the gun he wanted to buy. But, Zhan said, he was going to learn through a class at SU.
“I’m going to buy the gun now, then there’s a class at school where I’m going to learn how to use it,” Zhan told the shop owner.
Laubscher, who got a master’s degree from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, said there’s no way SU had a class to teach firing high-capacity shotguns.
“When was the last time you heard of a tactical shotgun class at SU?” Laubscher said he thought to himself (video below).
Noteworthy here is that Laubscher wasn’t cowed by that common-sense killer, politically correctness. This has been a factor in 9/11 and other terrorist incidents, where suspicious behavior by Muslims (in those cases) sometimes wasn’t reported for fear of appearing bigoted. Of course, though, it should be mentioned that political correctness isn’t in force with Asian suspects the way it is with other minority groups.
After being denied a gun, Zhan’s unusual behavior continued: He sat in his car in the parking lot for a time, further raising Laubscher’s suspicions.
And they were warranted. Syracuse police started an investigation mere hours after being alerted by Laubscher. They learned that Zhan tried to acquire what the media incorrectly describe as an “assault rifle” at a Dick’s Sporting Goods and, after obtaining a search warrant, found “gunsights ... ammunition of various kinds, a shotgun shoulder carrier, laser scope and light” at the student’s apartment, wrote Syracuse.com in an April 5 piece. Of course, this wouldn’t be significant were it not for the fact that, as Syracuse.com also informed:
Zhan told a friend that the “dark side” had pushed him to buy a gun, bulletproof vest and other items, [Syracuse Deputy Police Chief Derek] McGork said, reading from an English translation of their messages.
“I might use the gun to cause trouble,” Zhan said, adding, “I have been preparing.”
When his alarmed friend begged him not to shoot children or kill her, Zhan responded: “You're the only one I don't want to kill.”
While this friend failed in her responsibility to sound an alarm, this wasn’t true of friends in Mexico, where Zhan was spending spring vacation at the time. After becoming alarmed, they contacted SU and, among other things, reported the student as having said, “The reason I want to buy guns is not to go hunting.... I might do something extreme in the future,” related Syracuse.com.
Consequently, federal agents were waiting for Zhan when he returned from Mexico and sent him packing back to China, whose authorities were notified of his case. Syracuse.com adds, “It’s not clear what Zhan's status is back home.” Perhaps not, but rest assured we wouldn’t want to be in his shoes. The Chinese aren’t concerned with civil liberties and don’t tolerate threats.
Part of this story’s moral is that profiling works. This technique is not only just a fancy name for exercising common sense, but also is, as Professor Walter E. Williams has put it, a way to draw conclusions based on scant information when the cost of obtaining more information would be too great. In Zhan’s case, the cost might have been a multitude of innocent lives.
Sadly, that’s a price we often do pay because too many of us would rather be politically correct than prudent.
Photo: Filipovic018/iStock/Getty Images Plus