Thursday, April 19, 2007

VT shooter slipped through some big cracks

It seems to me that one of the main failures in this tragedy is the point where the shooter was allowed to legally purchase the handguns. He had by that time a significant psychiatric history that should have been available to the gun store(s).

I doubt I'll hear anyone from the NRA claim that people with psychiatric anti-social histories should be allowed to purchase firearms, but we'll see.
They too should want firearms dealers to do a background check that determines that:

1. the person is legally allowed to own firearms


2. that the purchaser isn't mentally unstable or a convicted felon (and that they are who they say they are)

In this tragic case the seller wasn't aware of the troubled history including psychiatric confinement in an institution for a period and stalking/harassment complaints made against him.

If the background check system included that crucial info there's at least a chance that this tragic incident might have been avoided. Maybe he might have been able to obtain illegal weapons, but I'm talking about the legal purchasing and selling of firearms.

To be sure, none of this can alter what has happened, but what can and must be done now is to learn from it and to put those lessons learned into immediate practice.

I don't believe that in a free society such as ours this type of attack is totally preventable. What can and should be done is to make sure that within the laws of this country everyone who wants to purchase a firearm is thoroughly vetted before being allowed to take possession. Anyone who would oppose that (NRA?) would appear to care more about fighting any and all changes to existing law than working towards thoughtfully enhancing the law to prevent untrustworthy/unstable people from buying them (legally). Let's watch and see what [they] say.

Really, the best we in the US can hope for (as far as the gun laws go) aside from a change in our culture, is to minimize the ways for people who absolutely should NOT be allowed to own firearms to obtain them. I want to know as much up-to-date pertinent information about the individual attempting to purchase a firearm as is available.

It's incredible to me that with all the technologies available to law enforcement today, the knowledge of this young man's troubled history wasn't known by the seller (I'm betting that he feels the same way).

There are cracks in the system that need to be addressed.
How do we deal with an individual who exhibits this behavior?
As far as I know legally, unless someone vocalizes direct threats, the police can't take action, and the most that can be done is a misdemeanor threat of something like harassment.
This should be a topic of national public discussion and by our representatives in Congress and in Statehouses around the country.

Note: Unfortunately, this issue will by and large pass from our public discourse with things like the War and all the ongoing scandals that are finally being taken care of now that checks and balances have been restored to [our] government. Not all the voices will fade away though, many dedicated folks will undoubtedly press to keep the issue moving forward and will be working behind the scenes to improve the communication of pertinent to the background check system.
Hopefully that will translate into building a more effective (and exhaustive) system of background checks.

That seems [to me] to be a 'no brainer'. Why that kind of (incredibly pertinent) information wasn't available to the gun dealer during the background check has to be accessed and remedied ASAP.

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