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Can we stop them?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 1:49pm

Whenever there’s a tragedy like the one in Tucson, we hear stories about the suspect and the people who knew he was a bit strange.

So why wasn’t something done, and how was he able to buy a gun?

Suddenly after the fact, everybody who knew the suspect was sure he was trouble on the hoof.

Rejected by the army, kicked out of community college, unable to even keep a volunteer job at an animal shelter, Jared Laughner made everyone uneasy.

Laughner seems to have some very convoluted politics, and to past friends, sometimes frightening demeanor.

But law enforcement is obviously limited. Unless a law is broken, they are hamstrung.

But Sheriff J.B. Smith says if a person acts truly strange, there is one temporary remedy.

If he is a danger to himself or others, he can be forced to undergo a mental evaluation.

Threats though, are different. That can result in an arrest.

So what about the gun that Laughner bought? Even though he passed a background check, could a dealer still say no?

Larry Knackstedt at Lock and Load says a dealer can deny a gun purchase even if the background check is clear. It is his discretion.

Sheriff Smith worries though, about what this will mean for elected officials…

"I think we'll see more stringent laws coming forth on the protection of our elected officials, Smith said. “There seems to be so much hatred running rampant in the public today. Everyone's looking for something to hate instead of something to grab ahold to that's positive. The negative is so easy to come up with. And I have seen that recently against our elected officials. It's depressing but that just one of the things elected officials will have to face."

Arizona laws are similar regarding gun purchases and mental exams for those who are dangerous.
But would Laughner have been a candidate for that?

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