An Ohio gun shop owner refused to sell a gun to a man, despite the potential customer having cleared background checks. Now some are saying that in doing so, shop owner John Downs might have foiled plans for a mass shooting.
James Howard, 25, withdrew from his classes at Ohio University last Monday and allegedly assaulted an assistant hockey coach before driving to Downs' store. Downs, however, turned him away. "Just the look in his eye... there was something about him. I don't know. You really can't explain it. He was going to do something. He was going to do something," Downs told CBS News.
Howard returned to the gun store later that same day but Downs locked the door and had a customer call 911. The police later found Howard's car with a gun in the back seat at a Walmart; Howard was in the process of purchasing almost 50 rounds of 20-gauge shot gun shell ammunition.
Hocking County Sherriff Lanny North told CBS he believed Downs' gut reaction might have saved lives. "We don't know what he may have prevented," North said.
As it turned out Howard had a history of mental illness, but that is really beside the point.
Having a mental illness is really not a consistent indicator for determining if somebody is a threat or not. Even seemingly rational people can be upset enough by circumstances to suddenly want to murder somebody.
That's where the term "crime of passion" originated.
This gun shop owner made the right call, and recognized that the person trying to purchase the deadly weapon had no business purchasing a deadly weapon.
Which is why we really need to have those cooling off periods built into gun purchases.
If you want to buy a weapon for hunting or home security you can plan ahead and wait two weeks without it interrupting your plan to assassinate Bambi.
However if you want to start killing people, two weeks seems like a long enough period of time to let that feeling pass. Of course to be fair, if you are indeed somebody who REALLY has your heart set on that killing spree then you will probably be able to handle the two week waiting period.
Gotta love that 2nd Amendment.