Adam L. Silverman
COL Lang just asked where last night's murder-suicide perpetrator got his gun. Keeping in mind that this is an unfolding news story and information is going to shift and change as the investigation continues: NBC (and other news organizations) is now reporting that he legally purchased the .40 caliber Hi-Point at a Phenix, AL pawn shop in February 2014. The question that arises is if he was involuntarily committed how could he have made it past the background check. While Federal statute indicates that an involuntary conviction or adjudicated mental defect is disqualifying in regards to purchasing a handgun, neither Georgia nor Alabama law is 100% in line with this. Involuntary commitments, in Georgia are disqualifying within five years of the attempted purchase (O.C.G.A.§ 16-11-129). Moreover, conviction of non-violent misdemeanors is also not disqualifying according to Georgia's statutes. According to the news reports, Houser was involuntarily committed seven years ago and what has been published of his lengthy criminal record has been non-violent misdemeanors and traffic violations. Alabama's statutes (ALA CODE § 13A-11-72) pertaining to who is prohibited from owning a pistol makes no mention of voluntary or involuntary confinement at all and only disqualifies those convicted of committing violent offenses. So according to the state statutes, in both the states he has resided in - Georgia and Alabama - he was not prohibited from purchasing/owning a firearm. The question that will have to be answered is why, given that Federal law is stricter in regards to involuntary incarceration, the information regarding Houser's did not make its way from Columbus, GA where it happened to the State of Georgia up to the Federal NICS database. The problem with this and the other databases used, like all databases, and as we saw with Dylan Roof's purchase, is they are only as good/useful as the information that is put in them. Put in the wrong information, leave out pertinent information, and they will not tell you what you need to know because they cannot tell you what you need to know. And one of the biggest problems with the NICS system is that it has been underfunded, for political/ideological reasons, and state involvement is hit or miss - because of funding and sometimes ideological/political issues.