In the modern era, legislative attempts to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill are nearly half a century old. In many ways, we've made little or no progress. There are numerous reasons for this failure and those reasons explain why the odds of success of any new legislative initiative to the problem of mentally ill having access to guns is very, very low. These challenges explain why none of the three of the most prominent recent mass shooters — Jared Loughner, Seung-Hui Cho and Adam Lanza — would have been affected by any current legislation involving the mentally ill and guns. Loughner had not met the conditions necessary for reporting his name to the federal database and he obtained weapons legally from a dealer. Cho was not deemed at imminent risk of causing harm, and was not involuntarily committed, and he was therefore not reported. Lanza does not seem to have been involuntarily committed, either, and, in any event, he didn't buy guns from a dealer — he simply took guns belonging to a family member.
Copyright NPR. View this article on npr.org.