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Questions Raised About Missed Signals Before UVA Shootings

Community members and a lawyer for one of the victims in the triple murder of University of Virginia football players are questioning why warning signs were missed before the suspect allegedly opened fire on his classmates, the New York Times reports. University officials had been warned that the suspect, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., possessed a gun in the months leading to the attack. During their inconclusive investigation of that tip they discovered that Jones had a concealed-weapon conviction in 2021, which he had failed to disclose to the university in violation of its rules. “If there was notice of the student being a threat to the community at the college and it wasn’t acted upon, what were the details of those threats, why wasn’t it acted upon and what were the standards?” asked the lawyer for one victim's family, Michael Haggard.

Another missed opportunity to prevent the shooting came when Jones initially failed a background check because of a pending felony charge, but then was allowed to buy a rifle and a pistol when that charge was reduced to a misdemeanor. Dr. Michael Siegel, a Tufts University School of Medicine researcher who authored a recent paper on gun safety policies, said the UVA tragedy could have been averted if Virginia closed the "misdemeanor loophole" that allows people with a violent record, but no felony conviction, to purchase firearms. Siegel's research, according to ABC News, aimed to find common ground between gun owners and non-gun owners. The research proposes gun safety policies that would keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals, while still protecting law-abiding gun owners' Second Amendment rights, according to Siegel and Matt Littman, the executive director of 97percent, a bipartisan group that helped sponsor the research. Other proposals in their paper included creating a state-level permit system, a revamped universal background check system, and red-flag laws with due process protections, all measures supported by some gun owners.


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