MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Despite early warning signs, no laws stopped an accused killer from buying the semiautomatic rifle used in last week’s school massacre.
Nineteen-year-old Nikolas Cruz passed a federal background check at a gun shop in Florida last year.
Investigators said the teenager ticked none of the boxes that could have banned him from buying the murder weapon.
So what do gun background checks actually check? Good Question.
“So I come in and I want to buy a firearm from you. Where do we start exactly?” WCCO’s John Lauritsen asked.
“First thing you are going to do is give me your Minnesota photo ID,” said Todd Lundstrom, firearms department manager at Capra’s.
That’s how a firearm purchase begins at a licensed gun dealer like Capra’s in Blaine.
You have to be 18 to buy a long gun and 21 for a handgun.
And have the right permit for certain weapons.
“You’ll start filling out the federal form, 4473,” said Lundstrom.
That form asks for personal information like your age and address.
It’ll also ask about your legal history, including: are you a fugitive from justice?
“I’ve never had that question answered yes ever in 36 years of selling firearms in the Twin Cities,” said Lundstrom.
And that’s not for Lundstrom to figure out.
He takes all the information and calls it into the FBI.
After they run the potential buyer’s name against several databases, they can come back with a response in just a few minutes.
“Proceed, denied, cancelled, or delayed,” said Lundstrom.
He said he’s seen many delays over the years. What’s the reason for that?
“We have no idea. The FBI will not tell us. The FBI will not tell the person that’s filling the form out,” Lundstrom said.
Sometimes it’s mistaken identity.
Or it could be past violence, mental health problems or drug use that cause a purchase to be denied.
But as we’ve learned from the recent school shooting, the background check is not designed to catch red flags like threatening social media posts or disciplinary action taken by schools.
And not all gun sales require background checks.
“I could sell my favorite bird gun to you on a hunt, no questions asked,” said Lundstrom.
The White House says President Trump supports efforts to improve background checks.
One proposal aims to make sure more criminal records and domestic violence cases get into the database in the first place.