Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Wal-Mart is being sued by a Texas woman whose schizophrenic daughter purchased a shotgun at a local Wal-Mart and used it to commit suicide. She used to frequent a different Wal-Mart, seven miles away, and at that store she had a prescription for anti-psychotic medication, she had assaulted police officers, and she had been arrested for attacking a fellow customer.

But Texas (along with 36 other states) does not submit mental health records to the FBI database consulted by gun vendors in performing background checks. Prescription drug records are off-limits, too, after a 1996 federal law made them so. And as a consequence, this profoundly disturbed girl came up clean on her background check, purchased a shotgun, and took her own life with it.

Incidentally, there are seventeen states that would have sold her the gun even if they had turned up a history of mental illness, because they don't have laws against such sales. Those are: Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Insanity, I say.