AP is reporting that the weapon Pastor Rick Warren’s son used to kill himself was “unregistered” and was acquired via the “internet.”
Far from proving the need for new laws, these two points, and others in the sad story, show that no new laws expanding background checks would have prevented Warren’s son from buying a gun–because he went around numerous laws already in existence to acquire his weapon.
For starters, the gun Warren’s son purchased had the serial number scratched off it–which is normally indicative of gun that’s been stolen or used in crime. Such a gun is illegal to possess, illegal to sell, and illegal to buy.
Secondly, because the identifying information was scratched off the gun, the gun could not be registered in California–which is another breach of the law in a state where all guns have to be registered.
Thirdly, the gun was apparently purchased by making a deal to purchase it over the internet. The story does not clarify whether this means Warren’s son emailed a black market dealer and they met at an undisclosed location where Warren’s son paid for the weapon or whether Warren’s son sent the seller money and the seller mailed the gun to Warren’s son. Either way, the transaction is already illegal in light of laws that are already in place.
If they meet face to face the transaction was illegal because of the fact that the gun was unregistered and its identifying marks were missing. If the gun was sent through the mail that violated federal law, which requires that guns be mailed only from a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL) to an FFL.
But Warren’s son had to go these lengths to acquire a gun because the background check system already in place would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to pass given his mental health problems.
The number of laws Warren’s son circumvented or broke to get his hands on a weapon simply proves again that passing another law or set of laws isn’t the answer.