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A mental illness diagnosis with a history of threats of violence towards others or,
suicidal ideation and firearms is a recipe for tragedy. The ability for persons with these mental
health issues to legally purchase a firearm is predictive of deadly results.
In 2017, Texans witnessed the Sutherland Springs Church shooting by an Air Force
veteran expelled from the military for domestic violence. The shooter killed 26 and wounded
22 others.

The recent May 2023 mass shooting at a mall in Allen, Texas revealed that the shooter
was discharged from the Army for mental health concerns. The shooter had posted
photographs of the mall and made multiple comments about race wars and the collapse of

As of May 2023, in the U.S. there have been 129 active shooting events with 103 fatal
victims. Schools and places of worship continue to be the preferred locations for these tragic
events. What have we learned from these loss of life senseless acts – and how do we prepare
and prevent the next one. A closer look at who is buying firearms is a necessary and logical

Evidence suggests that both shooters legally obtained firearms purchased at licensed
gun stores. The ATF Form 4473 is used as the basis for the federal background checks of
persons purchasing from a licensed gun dealer. The most important questions of this process
focus on “…if the person has been convicted of certain crimes or become subject to certain court
orders related to domestic violence or a serious mental health condition.” An applicant can
simply answer NO to these disqualifying questions without detection in some cases.

Unreported acts of criminal conduct, violence, and serious mental health findings by the
courts, military, and medical providers breaks down the full evaluative process of responsible
firearm ownership. We need a national system of Red Flag laws sharing these behavioral and
criminal background findings to exclude the purchase by dangerous persons.


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