After the on-camera shooting deaths of two journalists at Virginia's WDBJ, gun-rights advocates have argued that nothing that could have prevented the shooter from getting his hands on a firearm, reports The Trace. A study by Duke University's Jeffrey Swanson and others found that nearly one in 10 Americans have both anger management problems and access to firearms. Swanson believes policymakers can use existing tools that go beyond the federal background check system to help prevent people with anger issues from getting guns or to take weapons out of their hands once they turn violent. He recommended banning those arrested for violent misdemeanors from possessing a gun. Current federal policies only prohibit people convicted of crimes carrying at least a year of prison time, but California bars people convicted of a a range of violent misdemeanors, including many that suggest a volatile temper, like battery or threatening a school official, from owning a gun for 10 years. A smaller class of violent misdemeanors results in a lifetime ban. Other states give police the discretion to deem someone too risky to be allowed to have a gun.
Thirteen have “permit to purchase” system that require a prospective gun buyer to be vetted by local law enforcement before buying any firearm. These permits to purchase occasionally involve character references, which could alert law enforcement to anger issues. California passed a law last fall that allows police or concerned relatives to petition for the temporary removal of firearms from someone who might be poised to harm themselves or others. Gun-friendly Indiana has a similar “dangerous persons” law. Law Prof. Richard Bonnie of the University of Virginia, a member of the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearms Policy, believes a policy like Indiana's would have provided the best chance for stopping Vester Flanagan from committing gun violence. Meanwhile, murdered Alison Parker’s father, Andy, told CNN he was going to “take on” the National Rifle Association to get gun-control legislation passed. Parker said yesterday, “I’m for the Second Amendment, but there has to be a way to force politicians that are cowards and in the pockets of the NRA to come to grips and make sense — have sensible laws so that crazy people can’t get guns. It can’t be that hard.”