New questions are being raised after a Florida woman with mental health problems purchased a gun, and used that gun to kill herself and a friend three days later. The woman had a history of drug abuse, and had been held for mental evaluation on several previous occasions.
Florida’s gun laws are not considered very strict when it comes to preventing people from purchasing guns who may have a history of mental health issues.
The standard for refusing to sell someone a gun includes mental health conditions where a person is determined to be “mentally defective”, or a person who has been institutionalized involuntarily. However, the term “mentally defective” is open to interpretation, and is not necessarily clear in the law.
Florida firearms dealers are required to submit a request to the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to perform a background check on a person before selling them the gun. The background check, which takes three days, includes searches for disqualifying events such as felony convictions or misdemeanors if they are domestic violence related, open restraining orders, as well as the known mental health issues.
However, private sales and gun shows are not required to perform the same background checks.
In this case, the check would not have made a difference, since the woman was not disqualified for gun ownership under the existing mental health condition restrictions.
This tragic case will likely bring new calls for tighter restrictions on red flags for mental health conditions that should restrict firearms ownership in Florida.
If you have been charged with a criminal gun possession or related weapons charges on Florida, please contact our defense lawyers for a consultaiton and free case evaluation.