The man who killed a teacher and teen this week in a St. Louis school bought the AR-15-style gun from a private seller after an FBI background check blocked his attempted purchase from a licensed dealer in St. Charles, a St. Louis suburb. No existing law would have prevented the private sale of the gun to Orlando Harris, 19, police said. Seven others were injured in the attack. Police said Harris entered the school with 600 rounds of ammunition. He was killed by police, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Police said Harris’ family was increasingly worried about his mental state in the weeks leading up to the attack and at one point had him “committed.” Involuntary commitment to a mental health institution can block the purchase of firearms at licensed dealers.
Police responded to Harris’ home on Oct. 15 after his mother found a gun, the same one used in Monday’s attack, in the house and wanted it removed. Police said Thursday they did not have the authority to take the gun because Missouri does not have a red flag law. A third person, known to the family, eventually took the gun away, but Harris somehow retrieved it. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson argued that red flag laws would not have stopped the shooting. “You got a criminal that committed a criminal act, and all the laws in the world are not going to stop those things,” Parson said. A few days before Harris attempted to purchase the gun in St. Charles, a new federal law took effect that required the FBI to notify local or state law enforcement when a person legally prohibited from purchasing firearms fails a background check by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The law, the NICS Denial Identification Act, stipulates the FBI notify law enforcement within 24 hours. A spokesperson for St. Charles police said the department had not been notified.