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Boulder suspect shouldn’t have been sold a gun

The family of a suspect in the mass shooting in a Boulder, Colorado grocery store on Tuesday told investigators they thought he suffered some kind of mental illness, that he had delusions and sometimes believed people were following or chasing him. And yet, six days before the shooting, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, was able to buy the AR-15 he used to kill 10 people, including a police officer who was first to respond to the shooting scene.

We stated before, after the mass shooting at the Allina Medical Clinic in Buffalo by a man who is now about to undergo a court-ordered mental examination to determine if he is competent to assist in his own defense, that no one thinks that people with dangerous mental health problems should be allowed to have guns. Yet we continue to see cases like this, where someone considered to be troubled, delusional, even paranoid is able somehow to get a gun. In the Sandy Hook shooting, the shooter’s own mother had purchased the gun he used to kill her and then shoot 26 more people, including 20 children, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Reports do not say where Alissa bought the AR-15 used to kill his 10 victims, or whether any kind of background check was required.

Gun rights activists will insist this case should not be used to ramp up calls for banning sale of semi-automatic, assault type weapons like the AR-15. Okay, but then let’s at least agree to universal background checks for people who want to buy them, to prevent people with mental health issues from obtaining them. And let’s agree to promote better ways to identify those people, including letting family members report their concerns to someone who can follow up and get help for the person.

There are simply too many of these cases, and if we aren’t willing to control the guns, let’s keep them out of the hands of those who pose a danger to all of us.

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