Under federal law, the Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho should have been prohibited from buying a gun after a Virginia court declared him to be a danger to himself in late 2005 and sent him for psychiatric treatment, a state official and several legal experts said Friday. ...Still love those guns, Virginia?
Mr. Cho’s ability to buy two guns despite his history has brought new attention to the adequacy of background checks that scrutinize potential gun buyers. And since federal gun laws depend on states for enforcement, the failure of Virginia to flag Mr. Cho highlights the often incomplete information provided by states to federal authorities.
Currently, only 22 states submit any mental health records to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement on Thursday. Virginia is the leading state in reporting disqualifications based on mental health criteria for the federal check system, the statement said.
Virginia state law on mental health disqualifications to firearms purchases, however, is worded slightly differently from the federal statute. So the form that Virginia courts use to notify state police about a mental health disqualification addresses only the state criteria, which list two potential categories that would warrant notification to the state police: someone who was “involuntarily committed” or ruled mentally “incapacitated.”
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Hate The Gunman. Love The Gun.