One of the first things I thought of -- as I learned how mentally unstable Loughner was -- is how did he get a gun?
While I disagree with just about everything Eugene Robinson writes and says, he was pretty much on the money when he wrote this for the Washington Post:
We do know, however, that Loughner reportedly had a history of drug use and bizarre behavior. Students and a teacher at a community college that Loughner briefly attended found him so erratic, confused, menacing and potentially violent that they persuaded college authorities to bar him from campus pending a psychiatric exam.To me, this is just another example of how systems we have in place to protect us are not being managed effectively by our government. So more laws aren't the answer, but the proper implementation of laws we already have.
Yet on Nov. 30, he was able to walk into Sportsman's Warehouse in Tucson and purchase the weapon that authorities allege was used in Saturday's rampage. He apparently also bought extra magazines loaded with ammunition.
To buy the gun, Loughner was required to pass a federal background check - and he did, a store manager told reporters. It is against federal law to sell a gun to someone who is mentally ill, but there is no indication that Loughner was ever officially deemed to suffer from mental illness. Even if he had been, there is a good chance that his name would not have been properly entered in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
But we know how well that works. This is one of the reasons -- and a big one -- why average Americans don't trust their government.