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July 27, 2015

No, The Lafayette Gunman Did Not Buy His Gun Legally

Update: And just like that, the most important words in the original post became "[p]resuming the reported involuntary commitment order is correct ...".

The man who killed two people in a Louisiana movie theater last week was able to legally purchase a gun despite a judge’s order sending him to a mental hospital in 2008 because he was never involuntarily committed for treatment, a county probate judge told The Washington Post on Monday.

Original post below.

###

Various versions of this story are all over the news.

Lafayette theater shooter bought gun legally, police say

(CNN) [perpetrator's name redacted -- Andy] methodically shot 11 people in a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater using a handgun he legally purchased from an Alabama pawn shop, authorities said Friday.

...

The gun [perpetrator] used, a Hi-Point .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol, was legally purchased in February 2014 from a shop in Phenix City, Alabama, [Lafayette Police Chief Jim ] Craft said, citing the the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Drew Griffin, a senior investigative correspondent for CNN, said it appears [perpetrator] was cleared to buy the gun because he didn't have any convictions for serious crimes.

"He just didn't show up on any of the instant background checks," Griffin said.

That's interesting, because according to this piece:

Soon after, [perpetrator] visited the home of another relative, who called police to complain that he was threatening her. The county issued an involuntary commitment order for [perpetrator] after the family said they feared he was “a danger to himself and others,” the documents said. The court also issued a protective order in 2008 requiring that he not stalk, harass or try to contact his wife, his daughter, her fiance or the fiance’s family.

Say, these sound exactly like a couple of the questions on Form 4473 (PDF) that answering "Yes" to would result in a blocked purchase (and commission of a felony).

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 2.53.43 PM.png

I've read other pieces that indicate the protective order may have been dropped, but the county's involuntary commitment order should make him a prohibited person, and he should be flagged in NICS resulting in an inability to pass the background check run by the FFL.

Presuming the reported involuntary commitment order is correct, it appears that this wasn't a "legal purchase" at all. It looks more like yet another NICS failure that allowed a prohibited person to acquire a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer.

A NICS denial likely wouldn't have prevented him from ultimately acquiring a gun or committing an act of mass murder with another weapon like knives or gasoline, but it is important that we properly assess the flaws in the existing system as the anti-gunners continue to bleat about "universal background checks" and the like, which will continue the pattern of burdening law-abiding citizens' second amendment rights while failing to prevent criminals from acquiring firearms.

Related: Movie theater shooter's mental problems didn't stop gun buy


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posted by Andy at 12:26 PM

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