Center for American Progress

We Need Better Public Safety Measures for Gun Purchases
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We Need Better Public Safety Measures for Gun Purchases

Congress and states need to adopt clear and commonsense public safety measures that make it much more difficult and always illegal for people with a history of mental illness or drug abuse to purchase guns.

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With the death toll in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting rampage now at 12, with 58 wounded, many Americans are asking how future tragedies similar to this can be prevented. While the suspected gunman in this case appears to have purchased his guns legally, in America’s worst spree killing—the murder of 32 individuals and the wounding of 17 more on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007—the killer purchased a gun in spite of known mental health problems.

It’s too soon to know for sure if the accused killer in Aurora, who told police he was “The Joker” and appeared in court with his hair dyed a garish reddish orange looking dazed, has a history of metal illness. If so, he should have been prohibited from purchasing a gun under federal law. Still it must be emphatically pointed out that in America known dangerous individuals are able to purchase guns legally because of the failure of Congress and states to adopt clear and commonsense public safety measures that make it much more difficult and always illegal for people with a history of mental illness or drug abuse to purchase guns.

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