Apr 18 2007

Mentally Ill Cannot Buy Handguns

Published by at 4:18 pm under All General Discussions,VA Tech Massacre

The other news out today is Cho Seung-Hui was determined to be mentally ill in a court means he should not have been able to buy handguns. While being mentally ill is not reason to have him booted from school, it would seem VA’s process for flagging people as unable to buy guns is broken, because I am fairly sure (not positive) that you cannot buy a gun in VA if you have been deemed mentally ill by a court. VA takes its gun very seriously. We have concealed carry tied to the harshest punishments for any crime involving a gun (minimum 5 years in jail even if the gun is not fired). Something is definitely screwed up here.

Update: Reader Linda clarifies that there was no designation that Cho was mentally ill, but it was a warrent that required assessment. That clarifies why Cho could still legally purchase a gun. See Linda’s excellent comment in the comment section. LJStrata, you where right!

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Mentally Ill Cannot Buy Handguns”

  1. Dorf77 says:

    Probably not reported via NCIC or whatever form that judgement takes to get to the FiB (uuups fBI) data bases. The question is on the form used for the background check………..


  2. Linda says:

    I think that’s being reported inaccurately. In Virginia anyone can swear out a warrant to commit someone else against their will. A magistrate can issue the warrant over the phone, and the person is picked up by the police, held for a period of time for psychiatric observation. Then a hearing is held, with witnesses; usually the person who got the committment warrant, and anyone with an interest in the situation, and the psychiatrists who did the observing. It is presided over by a magistrate.

    The form that is filled out at the time of the warrant says the person is “a danger to himself or others” and that is where this wording is coming from.

    At his hearing, Cho was released and referred for counseling. He was not committed.

    In Virginia it’s referred to as a “green warrant.” You can get one for someone who simply refuses medical treatment and is so sick that their thinking is too muddled for them to know they need medical attention. You would not want these warrants following people around for years. They are used in some cases for revenge against an ex spouse, a family member, etc. abd to gain custody of children in messy divorce cases.

    The fact that the warrant was sworn out doesn’t mean the person was determined to be mentally ill by a Virginia court.

    Some of what this murderer says on tape makes me wonder if he hadn’t had contact with terrorists, but honestly, I think he was mentally ill more than anything. Trying to find a reason why a crazy person does something is – ahem- crazy.

    Assuming his parents are not monsters, I feel sorry for them as well as the victim’s families.

  3. AJStrata says:


    Excellent clarification – thanks.

  4. MerlinOS2 says:


    Here is Florida we have something similar called the Baker Act. I know it exists, but I would how to research the why and the wherefores that surround it.