Opinion: Obvious Major Failure Led to Buffalo Tops Shooting That Killed 10
The sadness and devastation being felt by the friends and family of Saturday's victims, and entire community as a whole in the Buffalo-area is something I hope no one ever has to experience ever again. While there are various theories on how this tragedy became a reality, or how it could have been stopped, or what new laws government can enact to prevent it, there seems to be an obvious question that not enough people are asking.
While I don't know that there was a catastrophic failure in the system used to screen and approve the backgrounds of individuals who are looking to legally purchase a firearm, it sure seems like there was. At least to me.
This piece is not looking to determine if the suspect's motivation was race-related, or stemmed from mental illness, or anything else. I'm just asking an obvious question.
How - in a state that purports to have the strictest gun laws in the country - can someone with Payton Gendron's background be allowed, approved, to legally purchase a semi-automatic rifle less than one-year after he threatened a mass murder-suicide at his own high school graduation?
I don't want to hear that he was a youthful offender, or it was because of his age that his case was sealed.
If his case was sealed, did it magically become 'unsealed' after his deadly rampage on Saturday?
I only ask because soon after news of the shooter's identity surfaced came a flow of reports that this is the same teenager who was nearly kicked out of high school for a terroristic plot to murder fellow classmates. Not 50-years-ago, or 20-years-ago.
It happened just one-year-ago.
So other people in his school, and in his community, and in other parts of the state were aware of his background. They knew what he had once allegedly planned.
Yet, the agencies or authorities we trust to screen individuals who are looking to purchase firearms in New York State apparently did not have access to that information?
Does that make any sense to anyone?
I ask again, how the hell could that be?
Now, if he had been denied the purchase for the reason stated above (his previous threat at his high school) could he still have found a way to purchase a gun?
Yes, of course, whether it be illegally in a back-alley or maybe he could have bought one online.
But, that's not what happened here. He bought that gun legally at a gun shop in Endicott, NY, and reportedly passed a background check in New York State, despite having been the subject of a mass-shooting or mass-murder probe less that 12-months-ago.
How did his background check not trigger some kind of a 'red flag' and get the attention of someone in law enforcement that, hey: 'Ya remember the kid who wanted to murder countless fellow classmates then himself like ten months-ago...yeah, he's trying to purchase a semiautomatic rifle at a gun shop in Endicott..."
But, somehow, amazingly, that did not happen?
Sadly, if it had, it's likely he would have then appeared on the radar of state, or local, or national law enforcement who may have been able to step-in and prevent the horrific massacre that occurred in Buffalo on Saturday.