WTVM Editorial 4/27/18: Waffle House Hero

(WTVM) - The mentally-ill man who shot four dead in a Tennessee Waffle House was arrested outside the White House almost a year ago, questioned by the FBI and even had his weapons confiscated by a county sheriff.

That should have been enough to prevent Travis Reinking from ever killing anybody. But once again the authorities who tried to do the right thing did not go far enough.

Amazingly, the Waffle House shooter was given his guns back by his own father - the man the deputies gave this son's firearms to after they were taken away.

The shooter had demonstrated mental instability since at least 2014. Yet four years later, this disturbed and delusional man, who thought the singer Taylor Swift was stalking him, was still able to have his weapons and bring death and chaos to innocent people in Nashville.

One man stood up to the shooter and did the right thing. His name is James Shaw and he is the Waffle House Hero.

He came in the restaurant just minutes ahead of the shooter, never imagining the role he would play.

Shaw realized what was happening and was determined not to die. He saw his chance to tackle the shooter as he was fumbling to reload his weapon, and he took it.

James Shaw wrestled the gun away from Reinking and even better, Shaw then threw it over the counter and away from the shooter.

The victims of the Waffle House shooting were all in their twenties.

James Shaw did a very unselfish thing by engaging the shooter and taking him down and deserves national recognition for his decisive courage.

Meanwhile, federal and state authorities failed to follow through to make sure Travis Reinking could never hurt anyone with a gun in the first place.

It's another very tragic lesson about why guns and mental illness are a deadly combination.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

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Columbus, GA 31906

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