The gunman who opened fire during a video came championship in Jacksonville over the weekend, killing two and injuring many others, had purchased the two handguns legally in his home state of Maryland within the last month.
Police still aren’t sure how he traveled with them or how he was able to get them into the event, which was held at a bar and ‘gun free zone’ in Florida.
In Maryland, a permit is required to purchase a handgun. The permit process includes taking a course, background check, and being fingerprinted.
Could this have been another case of information not making it into the NICS system when a background check is made on a person looking to purchase a firearm?
Federal gun laws prohibit anyone who has been committed to a mental health institution against their will — or adjudicated “mentally incompetent” — from legally purchasing a firearm. A clinical history of psychological issues does not preclude someone from buying a gun. And such medical records are considered private, protected patient information.
As far as the history of mental illness goes, it seems to be pretty well documented with this particular individual.
[The gunman], who was 24, was prescribed a number of psychiatric medications, including an antipsychotic, and saw “a succession of psychiatrists,” according to a 2006 letter from the father’s attorney. A separate 2006 court filing states that a therapist said [The gunman] had experienced a “psychiatric crisis.”
CNN also obtained police records that show 26 calls for service to the police from the [gunman] family home in Columbia, Maryland, from 1993 to 2009, for issues ranging from “mental illness” to domestic disputes. At least two of those calls involved [The gunman] arguing with his mother, though none of the reports provided to CNN show any physical violence. The Howard County Police Department declined to release the reports from a number of the incidents, citing statutory restrictions.
The question of whether or not this young man should have been able to purchase the firearm is going to be a hot topic for the near future.
But we all know that we can have a million laws on the books, and some will still find a way to do exactly what this young man did.
As a counter, why not examine the ‘gun free zones’ such as the one that this incident occurred in. Since the gunman was seemingly the only one in the area… with a gun… it might have been useful if an armed citizen had been there as well. I’m not sure how many people were at the tournament, but we could venture to guess that at least one of them has a concealed carry permit that’s either issued by Florida or recognized by Florida.
However, even if this is the case, they’re likely to leave their firearm at home or in their vehicle in their honest attempt at remaining law-abiding.
But that doesn’t help anyone.