Earlier this week a Cazenovia, New York gun shop owner didn’t like what he was hearing from man who wanted to buy an AR-15. Xiaoteng Zhan, a Syracuse University student had told a friend that the “dark side” was pushing him to buy a gun and that “I might use the gun to cause trouble,” Zhan said, adding, “I have been preparing.”
The shop owner, John Laubscher, refused to sell Zhan the gun and called the local sheriff with his suspicions. Besides the cryptic comments to friends, further investigation revealed that he had also acquired a supply of ammunition and a bulletproof vest. Zhang has since been sent back to China.
That’s a win for the good guys. And these kind of situations — firearms dealers who smell something fishy and turn away a potential customer — happen all the time. They’re just not typically reported.
But gun store owners aren’t shrinks. All they can do is rely on their Spidey senses to tell them when something doesn’t look or sound right.
What constitutes mental illness? Depression? PTSD in a returning vet? Grief at the death of a spouse? Hearing voices?
Who makes the call as to whether this individual is safe, but this one should be prohibited? If an individual is deemed too dangerous, but gets successful treatment, what’s the process for getting his or her gun rights back?
You see the problem(s) here. No one disputes the fact that guns in the hands of the mentally ill is a bad idea. But how do we prevent that without infringing on the rights of tens of thousands of other Americans? Any bright ideas?