Campus killer's purchases apparently within gun laws (CNN)
[QUOTE][SIZE=4][U]Campus killer's purchases apparently within gun laws[/U][/SIZE]
(CNN) -- When Cho Seung-Hui purchased two handguns this year, he apparently [B]followed the letter of the law[/B] to get the weapons he eventually used in a shooting rampage on the Virginia Tech campus.
Some questions have been raised over Cho's mental health and whether that should have prevented him from being able to purchase the handguns.
A Virginia judge in December 2005 deemed Cho "an imminent danger to himself because of mental illness" and ordered outpatient treatment for him, according to court documents. (Watch campus shooting rekindle debate on gun control )
Special Justice Paul M. Barnett, who filled out the certification and order for involuntary admission to a mental health facility, checked the box that said: "The alternatives to involuntary hospitalization and treatment were investigated and deemed suitable."
"Only if I order them into a hospital is there any effect on their gun rights," Barnett told CNN on Wednesday. (Read the judge's order - PDF)
[B]Virginia and federal law prohibit the sale of guns to anyone who has been sent unwillingly to a mental institution[/B].
Police twice investigated Cho in the fall of 2005 after female students complained about his contacts with them, university police Chief Wendell Flinchum said Wednesday. Neither of the women pressed charges.
A former suite mate of Cho, who wished to be identified only as Andy, told CNN that Cho had harassed three women and had spoken of suicide after a run-in with police.
"I told the cops that. And they took him away to the counseling center for a night or two," the roommate said.
The Virginia State Police Web site features a 16-question "Firearms Purchase Eligibility Test." The site says that answering yes to any of the queries means a person may not be able to purchase a firearm.
Question 9 states: Have you ever been adjudicated legally incompetent, mentally incapacitated, or been involuntarily committed to a mental institution?
Because Cho was not involuntarily committed to a mental institution, his appearance before the judge and his evaluation at a mental health facility did not show up when he bought the guns.
Gun buyers are regulated by the laws of the state in which they live.
[B]In Virginia, a person 21 or older can buy only one handgun a month, unless he has a license to buy more. Cho bought one gun, a .22-caliber pistol, in early February and another, a 9 mm pistol, in March[/B].
Cho bought one of the guns he used in the shootings from an out-of-state dealer, according to Joe Dowdy, the owner of the pawnshop across the street from campus where Cho picked up the Walther P22 pistol on February 9.
Under federal law, a weapon purchased from an out-of-state dealer must be shipped to an in-state, federally licensed gun dealer, who runs a background check. The buyer must appear in person to pick up the gun, and the dealer receives a small fee -- usually between $20 and $40 -- for facilitating the pickup.
Cho bought a Glock 19 and 50 rounds of ammunition on March 12, staying just within the limit of one gun purchase per month, said John Markell at Roanoke Firearms in nearby Roanoke.
Even though Cho is a resident alien, Markell said, it was legal for him to purchase a firearm, and he presented three forms of identification: a driver's license, a checkbook with an address matching the driver's license, and a resident alien card. Cho moved to the United States from South Korea at age 8.
State police conducted an instant background check that probably took about a minute, the store owner said.
Virginia law requires no waiting period, so Cho was able to legally take home the Glock on the same day that he bought it.
Markell, whose daughter graduated from Virginia Tech in 1997, said he was "heartbroken" to find out one of the guns came from his store. But, he said, "There was no reason for me to deny the sale."
Criminal defense attorney Daniel Gotlin told CNN he believes the easiest way to prevent similar incidents in the future "is to not make guns so easily available to individuals with problems."
"Virginia has one of the easiest gun qualification laws in the whole United States," he said.
And Democratic Virginia Rep. Jim Moran said on the House floor: "It is simply too easy to obtain a firearm."
But Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine says gun-control laws "disarm the law-abiding people, but they leave the criminals free to attack their victims who have no defense."
"It's never been never demonstrated in any conclusive way that gun control reduces crime," he said.
CNN's Drew Griffin, Jeanne Meserve, Christine Romans and Michael Sevanof contributed to this story.[/QUOTE]
Interesting points in this article. Given that he bougth the guns well before the evnt (Fen and March), I think it's safe to say a waiting period, even as long as a month, would not have helped.
Limiting guns purchased per X period may have helped some, but the killer would still have had the first gun he bought. And as stated elsewhere, the market for illegal guns is rather easy to tap into if needed, and if a person is willing/planning to kill as many people he can find (break the law) I doubt he's going to quibble with a gun control law break.
The best item is that the background check should be more comprehensive (deeper/longer/more thorough) and additional restrictions be added to limit who can legally purchase a gun. I see no logical reasonm to disagree, although (for example) the ACLU likely would, as the nature of pre-restriction is limitinbg the freedom of people never found guilty of any crime, and who may have "gotton over" whatever mental issue that limited them in the firsat place (tough one this part).
In looking over the laws and the purchases and other details, I am hard pressed to see where deeper/stronger gun restirctions would have done too much to stop this event. Some very strong restrictions (which could be very unconstitutional, if challenged) could have helped, but the average run-of-the-mill restrictions (waiting periods and the like) would not have done much.
And of course, none of us know what would have happened if he couldn't have found legal guns. None of us how easy (or not) illegal guns are to get in that area, nor if that idea alone would have been any kind of deterrant to man dedicated to mass murder.
Point being, I am not particularly against stronger gun laws, deeper checks, more thorugh screening, waiting periods, purchase limits, etc, etc, etc. but I cannot say with any level of surety that any of those would have stopped this massacre.
[QUOTE=jets5ever]Good post. I wonder why people who go willingly to mental institutions are allowed to buy guns? What's the reasoning?[/QUOTE]
I suppose it's the same as to why anyone who has EVER seen a Psychiatrist/Psycologist/Counsilor or their Mother about their life problems can still buy a Gun. Having an issue in and of itself does not make one (in the eyes of the law) any less of a citizen, or take away any of your rights.
Being put into a facillity against your will denotes (by our standards) severe mental issue, and societal requirement for action (and you DO lose some of your rights then). All other forms of mental therapy do NOT come with such losses of freedom.
For example, when I was 19-ish, my Dad killed himself, my arm got hurt (ended Baseball Life Dreams), and my GF/Fiance of 5+ years left me. I went and say a Councilor at a Facillity of my own volition, because I was depressed and drinking alot and having bad thoughts. My Father was obviously disturbed, my mother too had mental issues.
But should, based on the above, I have MY freedoms taken away? Opinions WILL varry, I am sure. But know that I have never hurt anyone in my life, nor will I.....ever, unless my or my GF/Wife/Brothers Families lives are on the line.
[QUOTE=chicadeel]I'm having a hard time understanding this. Cho was involuntarily admitted to a mental facility by a Judge. Why would that not disqualify him from purchasing a firearm under The Federal Law?[/QUOTE]
[QUOTE=CNN Article]Because Cho was [B][U]not involuntarily committed to a mental institution[/U][/B], his appearance before the judge and his evaluation at a mental health facility did not show up when he bought the guns.[/QUOTE]
He was unwillingly sent for evaluation. He was NOT committed (a topic for debate and a thread all it's own).