ABC news recently reported that the gunman who killed seven and injured twenty-two in the recent mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, had previously failed a federal background check in 2014. A law enforcement official explained that this was due to an undisclosed mental health issue.
While there has been no confirmation from law enforcement as of yet, additional sources have reported that the 36-year-old man may have purchased his AR-style rife through a private, person-to-person sale, which requires no background check in Texas.
Additionally, his neighbor Rocio Gutierrez told the Associated Press that he was “a violent, aggressive person…We were afraid of him because you could tell what kind of person he was just by looking at him,” Gutierrez said in an interview. “He was not nice, he was not friendly, he was not polite.” According to Gutierrez, the gunman would frequently shoot rabbits and other animals by night.
FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs, after an investigation, has also described the gunman’s home as “a very strange residence.” These reports support the fact that the shooter suffered from a mental illness, although we still don’t know what kind or to what extent.
Although the shooting occurred the same day the gunman was fired from his company, Combs doesn’t believe the loss of his position is what caused the violent outbreak.
“He was on a long spiral of going down,” Combs said. “He didn’t wake up Saturday morning, and go into his company and then it happened. He went to that company in trouble and had probably been in trouble for a while.” Because he was already mentally unstable, it’s more likely that the firing merely set him off.
In light of the El Paso shooting in July, officials and activists have already been looking for possible solutions to stop the mentally ill from illegally using guns for violence.
Now, they continue to seek reform, as Governor Greg Abbot told Twitter on Monday. However, he did not give details on what the “legislative package” he and the Texas Safety Commission are working on might entail.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has suggested that requiring background checks on private sales help prevent these sorts of mass shootings in the future, calling the current lack of such laws “a real loophole.”
Meanwhile, on the national level, President Trump has highlighted the fact that many mass shooters are mentally ill. “It’s a mental problem,” he says. He and his administration are working on “a lot of different bills” in response to this most recent mass shooting.
Whether those bills will involve increased background checks, closer watch of the mentally ill, or a combination of both remains unclear.
Ruth Moreno is a contributor to TheRichValdes.com