After he tangled with police and was committed to a mental health facility in Oregon in 2010, John F. Shick should not have been able to buy a gun in America under federal law.
But an Albuquerque, N.M., man told investigators he sold two 9 millimeter handguns with no background check to a man resembling Shick when Shick responded to a newspaper ad in April 2011, Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said on Friday.
Private sales without background checks are legal under New Mexico law. Shick tried to buy a handgun in Oregon in January 2011 and was denied after a background check.
Pittsburgh police believe Shick used the handguns to fatally shoot therapist Michael Schaab, 25, of Regent Square and wound five others at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic on March 8.
"This situation is an example of a person who clearly had dangerous tendencies -- he already had been flagged by law enforcement -- but he was still able to gain access to firearms because our laws are such a patchwork," said Max Nacheman, director of CeaseFirePA, a gun violence prevention group. "There are very few barriers to a person who is determined to get a firearm."
Unlike Pennsylvania, which requires background checks in private handgun sales, neither Oregon nor New Mexico requires an individual selling a gun to another person to run a background check or keep records of the sale.
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