Despite mental illness, man was able to buy guns

Associated Press


The young man who opened fire at a Florida video game tournament had shown abundant signs he was struggling with a mental disorder: He was prescribed an anti-psychotic drug as an adolescent and had been hospitalized at least twice for mental illness.

Yet David Katz landed at the foggy intersection of America’s mental health and legal systems when it came to buying the two handguns that police say he carried during the attack, which killed two people and wounded 10 others during the “Madden NFL 19” competition in Jacksonville. The rampage ended when the 24-year-old Baltimore man fatally shot himself.

Experts say the gunman’s history of mental illness apparently would not have stopped him from buying guns in Maryland, where buyers cannot pass a background check if they were either involuntarily committed for any period of time or voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric facility for at least 30-consecutive days.

Court papers filed in his parent’s bitter divorce do not clearly indicate whether Katz was hospitalized voluntarily or involuntarily.

The Jacksonville shooting is the latest U.S. case to illustrate the complexities of keeping dangerously unstable people from buying guns.

A Maryland legislator said the attack highlights the need to review laws governing the length of time someone can be voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric facility and still pass a background check for firearms.

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