~ Privacy, death, public records and the law ~

This is not just another lurid tale of mentally ill woman-kills-self-with-gun-purchased-at-WalMart. Shayla Stewart, a diagnosed manic-depressive and schizophrenic, killed herself last year with a weapon purchased at…(you know where). But here’s the thoughtful, intriguing issue related to privacy, law enforcement records and gun ownership.

Stewart purchased a gun at WalMart, and her meds, a prescription for which she had on file at the WalMart pharmacy. The store did not check it’s pharmacy database, before selling the gun, because that’s a medical record, which they are barred by law from accessing for other purposes. The FBI check didn’t capture the medical history, when they did the gun check, because many states don’t report it. Isn’t privacy fun!

As long as we’re going to allow guns to be sold like candy, should the sellers have a duty to screen the mental health history of the purchaser–much as bartenders assess the intoxication level of their patrons before selling them a drink? Read an article.

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