Ross: Gun shops should have their own network to prevent mass shootings

Oct 30, 2023, 8:31 AM | Updated: 9:11 am

guns shop mass shooting...

FILE - Firearms are displayed at a gun shop in Salem, Ore., Feb. 19, 2021. An Oregon judge will decide during a trial starting Monday, Sept. 18, 2023 whether a gun control law approved by voters last year is lawful under the state constitution. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)

(AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)

The latest detail in that shooting in Maine offers some hope. It turns out the shooter who killed 18 people in Lewiston – and who was found dead over the weekend – had been turned away by a local gun shop when he tried to buy a silencer in August.

ABC News reported that back on Aug. 5, the suspect went to Coastal Defense Firearms in Auburn, Maine, to pick up a silencer. When the owner presented him with the standard federal form, ATF Form 4473, the suspect actually checked the mental illness box!

More from Dave Ross: How do you figure out when the people you trust are about to snap?

Question 11-f: “Have you ever been adjudicated to be a mentally defective, etc…” etc. Actually, the suspect had never been formally judged as mentally defective; he’d only been treated for mental illness, but he checked the box anyway.

And so the owner, Rick LaChapelle, who also happens to serve on the Lewiston City Council, did his duty and refused to hand over the silencer. The customer was turned away, even though he would have passed a background check.

This is significant (to me, anyway) – if there was a private agreement among gun dealers to share information about suspicious customers, Mr. LaChappelle, the shop owner, could have instantly alerted every other gun dealer in the area about this guy.

Which is why I keep asking, why isn’t there such a network? No gun shop wants to see its merchandise used in a massacre. They would probably appreciate anything that would help them assess whether the person buying all those guns can be trusted.

Gun shops are not bound by the Second Amendment; they can infringe all they want on the right of suspicious people to buy guns. And they don’t have to limit themselves to government background checks.

The Internet would make it easy for gun shops to alert each other to suspicious customers without any help from the government. And if that sounds unfair to the mentally ill, look at it this way: if there was such a system, this particular mentally ill person – and his victims – might be alive today.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Gun shops should have their own network to prevent mass shootings