Gun Vendors Say, Sometimes Up to Us to Determine if Someone is Safe to Buy Weapon
Lynchburg, VA - FBI officials are saying that alleged Navy Yard shooter, Aaron Alexis purchased his weapon legally.
So we talked to one gun store owner about this who says there's a loophole that allows them to sell to potentially harmful customers.
According to officials, Alexis had a history of mental illness, but his cases were never diagnosed.
Gun store owners and employees say, before a sale, they look for signs that would point to mental illness, but unless a customer has been booked as having a disorder, there's no real way of knowing.
For some, it's as easy as walking in, to walk out of a store with a gun.
"The national instant background check, and it'll either come back approved or denied" is all you have to go through in order to walk out of a store with a gun, said Maynard Lawhorne, the Manager of Lynchburg Arms gun store.
At Lynchburg Arms, they sell hundreds of guns every year. Lawhorne says his staff is trained on the process each gun purchaser is put through before a buy.
It includes having two valid forms of ID; filling out extensive firearm purchasing forms, both federal and state; and finally a background check.
But he says there's one final fail safe to make sure someone with malicious motive doesn't walk away a gun owner, "We'll feel the customer out too. If he's acting squirrelly or sweating and nervous, angry or something like that, we're not going to sell him a gun" said Lawhorne.
Employees at Lynchburg Arms have had to deny purchases in the past.
"They were telling me a lot of crazy stuff like they were in the witness protection program and they wanted to pay with a postdated check and all this stuff" said Lawhorne.
And it's critical. The required forms ask buyers if they have a history of mental illness. But in the case of the alleged Navy Yard shooter, whose father says he suffers from PTSD after living in New York during 9-11, he had never been formally diagnosed.
Nevertheless those that work in gun sales, even customers say these forms, these hurtles are not a minor inconvenience if it means another shooting may be stopped.
"It keeps a whole lot of people who shouldn't own handguns or rifles from owning them" said store employee, Bobby Arrington.
"If everything checked out on his background check and all, I don't know how you would tell that something's wrong with someone, you know?" said one store customer.
And that's really the ultimate question; if a gun buyer isn't demonstrating any signs of an illness in the store, and their background check is clean, they can walk right out with that weapon.