Richard Plotts, the man who killed a case worker and wounded two others at a Pennsylvania hospital last week had a history of mental illness, and gun violence. At the time of the shooting, we reported that hospital staff had numerous issues with Plotts, and that many interactions with him were, at best, turbulent. Beyond that, now The Raw Story has picked up a story saying that Plotts had a history of gun violence as well as mental illness.
How on earth did this guy get his hands on a gun?
Plotts had a problem with the fact that the hospital was a gun-free zone. Both the NRA and the GOP have made it clear that they think gun-free zones are nothing more than a license for murderers to shoot up people, because they know the victims can’t fight back. In fact, the NRA wonders if “gun-required zones” would be better.
The GOP succeeded in killing expanded background checks back in 2013, four months after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. The Washington Post (and other outlets) reported that, at that time, Senate Republicans successfully blocked the Manchin-Toomey amendment to a proposed gun bill, which was a bi-partisan amendment that would have required criminal and mental health background checks for gun show and online sales.
Politifact listed some of the reasons that groups like Gun Owners of America opposed this amendment, one of which was the fear that gun buyers and owners would end up in a national registry. In fact, they said:
“If your private gun transaction is covered by Toomey-Schumer-Manchin (and virtually all will be) … you can assume you will be part of a national gun registry.”
The truth was that such registries were already outlawed, and Manchin-Toomey specified that would remain the case.
As far as gun laws at the state level go, The New York Times has a series of fantastic charts showing what gun laws have either gotten loosened or tightened in the states. Between Sand Hook and the end of 2013, the states passed 109 new laws. Here are some doozies that have passed in recent years:
- Alabama passed a law saying that every citizen has a right to bear arms, and that any and every proposed restriction would be subject to heavy scrutiny before passage.
- Arkansas passed laws expanding where people could carry guns, including on college campuses and in bars (because nothing can possibly go wrong when you mix alcohol and guns).
- Montana prohibited universities from banning guns on their campuses.
- Utah passed a law that would create a system to restore gun rights to the mentally ill.
- Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and others all passed variations of laws that would allow teachers and other school officials to carry guns in schools, for the purpose of fending off would-be shooters.
- 22 states loosened their carry laws, including increasing the number of places where people can carry guns, and expanding so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws.
To see all of the laws passed at the state level since Sandy Hook, click here.
And let’s not forget Georgia’s ridiculous “guns everywhere” law. Paul Broun trumpeted that law, saying that “guns everywhere” is a God-given right, and that the law would protect citizens and school children. About 70% of Georgia residents opposed that law, including many small business owners, law enforcement officers and police groups, but of course the state’s government didn’t listen.
Furthermore, back in the 1990s, the NRA and the Republicans successfully ended funding to the CDC for research into gun violence. The New York Times reported, just after the shooting of Gabby Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, that the NRA thought the CDC’s research wasn’t real science, and that they feared such research would convince people that gun ownership was a disease to be destroyed.
Back to what’s happened in Pennsylvania; people convicted of crimes, along with the mentally ill, are prohibited from owning guns there, according to the NRA-ILA’s own information. It’s not clear how Plotts had gotten this particular gun, or any of the weapons found in his home. It’s likely that he slipped through the cracks of a background check system rife with loopholes and exemptions, thanks to the GOP’s and the NRA’s “MOAR GUNZ” efforts, despite the obvious fact that he should not have had any guns at all under Pennsylvania law.
h/t The Raw Story