01.27.13 3:12 PM ET
Here's How Easily a Mentally-Ill Teen Can Get a Gun
How does a mentally ill teenager with a criminal record buy a gun? Very, very easily.
From a shocking report in the Tampa Bay Times.
To solve his problem, [Benjamin Bishop] didn't go to a gun show, where he could have avoided a background check, or an illegal weapons trafficker on a street corner. His 12-gauge pump-action shotgun was purchased for $279 at Lock N Load, a gun store in an Oldsmar strip mall, authorities say.
A Lock N Load employee initially refused to sell to him after learning he had a criminal record, according to investigators. So Bishop came back with a friend, Oldsmar resident Matthew Schwab, who bought the gun for him.
Helping someone avoid a background check like this is called "straw buying." It is prohibited by federal law. Schwab, who has cooperated with homicide detectives and is expected to be a witness for the state if Bishop's case goes to trial, has not been charged.
Schwab, a slight 18-year-old, declined to speak to a reporter when approached at his house in Oldsmar. His father, Steven Schwab, said the family would have no comment for this article. "I don't think there's anything we need to try to talk about," he said. "We're kind of hoping it will all go away. We don't want to drag (Matthew) through anything else."
At Lock N Load, an employee who would identify himself only by his first name, Gerry, refused to discuss Bishop's case and asked a reporter to leave the store.
"I'm not going to discuss anything. We've got nothing to do with it. It has nothing to do with the shop," he said. "Please just go. I don't want to be in the newspaper."
The gun Bishop bought was a 12-gauge shotgun. He used it to murder his mother and her boyfriend on October 28 of last year, or so it is alleged by prosecutors.
But Bishop wants it understood that he's no Adam Lanza.
Asked whether he thinks legislators should establish stricter firearm regulations, he has a ready answer.
"Honestly, I don't think they should," he says. "Guns are pretty fun to shoot."
He pauses for a moment, looking thoughtful.
"I don't know. Just don't give it to somebody who's going to end up killing a bunch of innocent 6-year-olds."
In a recent "Fireside Chat," Joe Biden offered insight into the White House's plan to curb gun violence in America.