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Current laws don't keep guns from severely mentally ill in Oklahoma

Two recent Oklahoma City cases point to loopholes in system designed to keep guns out of the hands of the severely mentally ill.
by Juliana Keeping Published: October 20, 2013

Daniel Green got a family member's handgun at home.

Gerald David Hume bought rifles and a handgun at Walmart and Gun World.

Green, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, is accused of killing two women, a teenage girl and a baby boy — all family members — in August.

Hume, also diagnosed with schizophrenia, is accused of shooting his mother to death and dismembering her body. Police made the gruesome discovery Nov. 14, after an 11-hour standoff in southeast Oklahoma City.

Green's family members took steps to keep the guns in the house away from him, but he got one anyway, police said.

Hume, although mentally ill and unstable, easily purchased weapons, Oklahoma City police said.

The scenarios paint a stark reality: The severely mentally ill have easy access to guns in Oklahoma.

The law

At H&H Shooting Sports, buyers show proof of age and residency before filling out seven pages of federal and store paperwork.

A potential buyer at the sprawling sport shooting complex and gun store stands at a computer kiosk to enter data on Form 4473.

The federal form is sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in an effort to weed out people with issues like criminal activity and severe mental health issues in their backgrounds.

A question on the form asks “Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective?” The court jargon translates to being ruled a danger to yourself or others, unable to manage your affairs or committed to a mental institution.

“It encompasses individuals court-ordered for involuntary mental health treatment,” said Dewayne Moore, general counsel for the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

People ruled mentally defective by the court also include those who lack the capacity to take care of themselves, such as people with impaired memory or dementia.

“And then you have people who are found not guilty by reason of insanity,” Moore said.

“You have your individuals found not competent to stand trial.”

If a person checks “yes” to the question “Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective?” on the federal paperwork, the sale is canceled.

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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