It barely made the news--like this week's Delaware courthouse shooting that left three dead. But last week the New York Times reported that Alice Boland threatened administrators at Ashley Hall, a girls' school in South Carolina with a gun she bought legally. Boland was charged in 2005 with threatening to assassinate President George W. Bush but passed her background check with flying colors. What?
Deranged gunmen who pass background checks are not hard to find. Jared Loughner (Tucson), James Holmes (Aurora) Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech) and Stephen Phillip Kazmierczak (Northern Illinois University) all sailed through their background checks.
So did a 30-year-old former babysitter named Laurie Dann in Winnetka, IL, a northern Chicago suburb. On May 20, 1988, Dann shot six students at Hubbard Woods Elementary School, one of whom died, and another man before killing herself, ushering in the era of the school shooting.
Like Loughner, Holmes, Cho, Kazmierczak, One Goh (Oikos University), Wade Michael Page (Sikh temple), Jacob Roberts (Oregon mall) and at least 10 other crazed gunmen in recent years, Dann exhibited many signs of emotional disturbance.
She had a "thing" for raw meat, putting it under her mattress at college while she slept and stealing it from the refrigerators of families for whom she babysat. She rode elevators for hours wearing rubber gloves to avoid touching the metal.
Two days before the shootings, Dann mailed arsenic laced snacks to former acquaintances and her psychiatrist and hand delivered others, leaking and appearing foul, to fraternities at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.
And the day of the shootings she started fires at a Winnetka home and at a different school from the one she shot up.
Dann's rampage so affected the community, 16 years later, in 2004, Hubbard Woods School officials would not let First Lady Laura Bush read to children at the school where the shooting occurred because of the Bush Administration's lax stance on gun control.
"Laws Failing To Keep Guns Out Of Hands Of Disturbed," said the Chicago Tribune. "Suspect Had History Of Bizarre Acts," said another news source. Funny--that's exactly what newspapers say 25 years later.
It would be easy to stop violent criminals like Loughner, Holmes, Cho, Kazmierczak, Goh, Page, Roberts and Lann from striding into gun shops and buying guns for lethal rampages. But a national registry of gun owners would be a violation of--anybody?---our Second Amendment rights and lead to "taxes and confiscation" says the NRA.
As long as the gun industry is writing our laws, not US citizens and the lawmakers who are supposed to represent them, deranged killers like Loughner, Holmes, Cho, Kazmierczak and Dann will continue to be legal gun owners.