After a discussion on gun control at an event in Richmond, Virginia, Vice President Joe Biden claimed that better mental health checks could have stopped the shooting on the Virginia Tech campus in 2007.
Biden said that he and those he consulted during the recent gun commission he chaired had reached a “pretty broad consensus” of policy recommendations that would include screening “mental capacity” to determine who would be allowed to purchase guns in the future.
“One of the problems that was pointed out here was that there was an adjudication of the young man that committed the crime at Virginia Tech, and yet he was able to go out and purchase two weapons,” the Vice President said.
In 2007 Seung-Hui Cho, a student at the university, killed 32 at the Blacksburg, VA campus. Cho used two handguns that he had purchased legally. The killer, though, had a history of mental health issues that apparently didn’t come up in his background checks when he purchased the weapons.
Improved screening for mental health issues is one of the areas that many on both sides of the gun control issue support. Even the NRA has advocated stronger mental health screening not to mention improving mental health services in general.
Recently the NRA announced support for legislation that would ensure that appropriate records for those judged mentally incompetent or had been voluntarily committed to mental health institutions would be made available for use in firearms transfer background checks.
But the NRA has also warned of overbroad mental health disqualifiers that might unduly affect our military veterans.