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Sandra Chapman/13 Investigates
Indianapolis – The mother of the suspect accused in Thursday’s shooting tells 13 Investigates her son snapped under a combination of taunting and mental illness. She wants to know how he got a gun. A legal loophole could put weapons in the hands of troubled minds.
Jason Burnam, a man battling mental illness, bought a .380 caliber semi automatic gun a week ago and used it to shoot four coworkers Thursday morning. All four, two men and two women, are expected to recover.
Too distraught to speak on camera, Jason Burnam’s mother Judy says her son was taking daily doses of Wellbutrin and Prozac for bipolar disorder. She says recently he complained of teasing at work. But she had no clue that his quiet demeanor was harboring violent feelings, or that her son had bought a gun and planned to use it.
“I know it was purchased a week ago, but I don’t know where at,” said Lt. Doug Scheffel, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
Investigators believe the weapon used in Thursday’s shootings came from a local pawn shop. Pawn shops are required to follow the same federal procedures as gun shops. FBI background checks are a must. Within seconds, the National Instant Background Check System (known as NICS) can approve a gun sale based on the information provided.
13 Investigates asked pawn shop manager Jean Pierre DeCaudin if he would check to see if Jason Burnam bought a gun from him last week, but he declined, saying, “I really don’t know – until I hear from the police department or anything like that I’d rather not.”
An FBI spokeswoman says there’s no way to confirm whether a gun sale was approved for Jason Burnam. Federal law requires the background check record destroyed within 24 hours if approved.
The FBI can turn down sales to those federally disqualified because of criminal history, illegal aliens, those abusing controlled substances, veterans dishonorably discharged, US defectors and anyone mentally incapacitated or who has been committed to a mental institution. But nowhere on the form does it ask about legally prescribed drugs for mental illness.
FBI background checks fall under the Brady Law. Changes would require action from Congress.
Between November 1998 and December 2005, more than 62 million checks were conducted for gun sales. Some 473,000 potential buyers were denied.
Investigators are tracking Jason Burnam’s gun. State police say owners need a permit to carry a handgun outside of the home. Records reveal no such permit on file for Burnam.