How Seung-Hui Cho Got His Guns

Been thinking a lot about guns and our right to bear them in the wake of the happenings at Virginia Tech. Seung-Hui Cho did purchase his weapons “legally,” but only because he managed to fly below the radar of a pretty spottily enforced federal law. The 1968 law, passed in response to the Kennedy and King assassinations, was intended to prevent known criminals from purchasing firearms.

The same law also applies to the mentally ill. While fairly substantial efforts are made to prevent known criminals from acquiring guns, these efforts are less than thorough for the mentally ill.

While he was purchasing his guns, Cho was asked the following question on Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Form 4473: “Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective or committed to a mental institution?” Two years ago a Virginia judge deemed Cho a danger to himself due to mental illness. On the form, Cho answered “no.”

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