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Second Amendment Hijinks: Box Elder Gun Dealer Arms Man with Documented Schizophrenia

A Rapid City man is charged with threatening to shoot Donald Trump at Mount Rushmore during the July 3 fireworks show.

Please don’t misunderstand me—I do not advocate murder, I only seek the removal of our current dictator by the swiftest possible legal means, and I do not want a visit from the Secret Service.

But on September 5, one of my neighbors, Patrick McHugh, wrote a letter to my local paper claiming that terrible political leaders like Joe Biden and other Democrats are why we have a Second Amendment:

Get rid of these swamp rats and never, never, never give up your guns!

People like these are the reason the men who wrote the Constitution put in the Second Amendment [Patrick McHugh, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2020.09.05].

What good is the Second Amendment as a bulwark against tyranny if the tyrants can simply roll in and arrest anyone who invokes that Second Amendment right?

But hey, maybe the argument isn’t worth having. Patrick McHugh is now dead… and Lucian Celestine, the guy who’s charged with threatening to shoot Trump is schizophrenic, probably didn’t intend to shoot anyone, and, as Arielle Zionts discerns from the police reports, wouldn’t have had the gun cops found in his trunk in the first place if some knucklehead in Box Elder had followed the law, done the background check, and found it was illegal to sell that guy a gun:

Like most of the other defendants in those cases, Celestine has a mental health illness, schizophrenia.

…The agents then spoke with Celestine, who acknowledged his past statements to the Secret Service and FBI, and said he had a gun in the trunk of his car. Celestine said he recently bought the gun for nearly $2,000 from a man in Box Elder and planned to use it for target practice. He said he didn’t have plans to harm Trump.

…The federal charges came after agents found that Celestine was on a national gun background check list and had been involuntarily committed in October 2019 to Yankton after a mental health professional found he was a danger to others. Celestine was sent to the hospital after his call to the FBI but before the one to the Secret Service.

Celestine was on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) which said he can’t own a gun until 2022. People or stores with Federal Firearms Licensee are required to contact NICS before selling weapons.

Federal law makes it illegal for anyone who has been committed to a mental health facility to have firearms or ammunition that were involved in interstate commerce. Celestine’s rifle was produced outside of South Dakota [Arielle Zionts, “Rapid City Man Charged in State, Federal Court with Threatening to Shoot Trump at Mount Rushmore,” Rapid City Journal, updated 2020.09.25].

The Founders intended a well-regulated militia. Part of that good regulation means doing your part to make sure guns don’t end up in the wrong hands. While the feds keep Celestine in jail on $1,000,000 bond, they should also track down the lawbreaking gun dealer in Box Elder who facilitated this “terrorist threat.”

Related Risks: Rapid City’s ill-regulated militia is packing more heat this weekend, as three young men are still at large with about 40 handguns stolen from First Stop Gun and Coin in the wee hours Wednesday. Huh—guns not only didn’t stop that crime; guns invited that crime.

But don’t worry—those fellas are just burglars, not terrorists.


  1. 96Tears 2020-09-26

    Ballots are so much more reasonable than bullets.

  2. mike from iowa 2020-09-26

    96 Tears, not so much when one party uses ballots for political gain, even when they know their info is false. And drumpf’s, personal AG is behind the lies.

  3. David Newquist 2020-09-26

    That letter from Patrick McHugh received quite a few comments from other readers and an inquiry from a former journalism student regarding its publication in regard to libel laws. While Lucian Celestine is documented as too mentally deficient to own firearms, the McHugh letter is also threatening. Its name calling rant against prominent Democrats maligns them with statements of fact as well as opinion, and all of those accusations have been shown to be false by fact checkers. The factual allegations are that Nancy Pelosi is a drunk, Joe Biden suffers dementia,Hillary Clinton sold uranium to Russia (nine other cabinet officers had to sign off on what was a business transaction involving a Canadian corporation), and that Obama gave billions to Iran, when his administration actually released impounded money belonging to Iran as part of the nuclear treaty. On the basis of these accusations which are based upon conspiracy theories, folks are urged to get rid of the Democrats by applying their Second Amendment rights.

    Reputable newspapers do not publish known falsehoods— even in letters to the editor. And the malice displayed in the letter makes me wonder if Mr. McHugh and the newspaper received visits from the Secret Service, as Mr. Celestine did. Or if anyone in current state government or on the newspaper staff examined the letter in regard to South Dakota law.
    22-10-17. Incitement to riot–Violation as felony.
    Any person who, with the intent to cause a riot, commits an act or engages in conduct that urges three or more people, acting together and without authority of law, to use force or violence to cause any injury to any person or any damage to property, under circumstances in which the force or violence is imminent and the urging is likely to incite or produce the use of force or violence, incites riot. For the purposes of this chapter, urging includes instigating, inciting, or directing, but does not include the oral or written advocacy of ideas or expression of belief that does not urge the commission of an act or conduct of imminent force or violence. This section may not be construed to prevent the peaceable assembly of persons for lawful purposes of protest or petition. A violation of this section is a Class 5 felony.

  4. Debbo 2020-09-26

    People like this McHugh guy who are buying into every word from Bumbling Babbler, then advocate violence, scare me. The closer we get to the election, the more agitated and extreme they get.

    I feel safer around people with schizophrenia. Very few of them are dangerous. The ones who are, are more amenable to reason than most cultists.

  5. Curt 2020-09-26

    Newquist nails it – again. Advocates for “gun rights” often tout “responsible gun ownership”. I don’t even want to open the “gun rights” box – guns can have rights more than humans can? – but the only way “responsible gun ownership” can exist is if people who sell them are required to comply with our laws.

  6. Clyde 2020-09-26

    Personally I think that a real business opportunity is being missed right now. There is a huge need for weapons training for Liberals. Historically a group with little knowledge or ability with tools it looks like they will be needing before long…..

  7. mike from iowa 2020-09-27

    You will likely see an overwhelming right wing push of the ideological spotus to make gun rights untouchable in the near future.

    Keeping guns away from people who shouldn’t have them will be the least of our problems.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-09-27

    David, any chance that Patrick McHugh faked his death to avoid prosecution?

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-09-27

    Clyde, I do worry that if Trump declares civil war and gives the Bugaloo Boys the green light to start shooting, we liberals will be outgunned in the first wave. We’ve been following 96’s principles and focusing on ballots and other sensible means of social change instead of stockpiling bullets.

    Luckily, we liberals learn quickly. The moment the morons start shooting, they’ll discover that their credits cards don’t work and their bank accounts are empty.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-09-27

    David is right: Patrick McHugh did far more to publicly threaten public officials than did Celestine, who appears to have made his “threat” only after law enforcement detained and pressured him.

  11. leslie 2020-09-29

    Clyde-bs flag, non-gun owners by the tens of millions, hundreds even grew up on guns and grew out of guns. Grow up. Or go shoot w/ kristi and her militia tripe. NOT anywhere close to people of good conscience. Stick that in yer assault ar and Russian ak bannana bullet shell magazine crap. Educate yerself. Btw links w/no explainer don’t get clicked.

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