With the nation’s toughest gun-control regulations, California has a unique database of gun purchases that law enforcement can easily search. It offers precious intelligence about a suspect or other people officers may encounter when responding to a call. The Washington Post says this rare advantage wasn't enough to help authorities head off the May 23 rampage in Santa Barbara that claimed six victims. Before sheriff's deputies knocked on Elliot Rodger's door last month in response to concerns raised by his mother about his well-being, they could have checked the database and discovered he had bought three 9mm semiautomatic handguns.
Law enforcement officials and experts on gun policy said this might have given deputies greater insight into Rodger's intentions and his capability for doing harm. “I cringed when I learned they didn't run for guns,” said Emeryville Police Chief Ken James, chairman of the California Police Chiefs Association's firearms committee. “Their assessment could have changed if they knew about the gun purchases and asked him about them,” said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. “They could have asked to see the guns. They could have let him know they knew he had them.”