Because apparently, some jurisdictions are ignoring ones already on the books.
ELIZABETH — The gunman who killed two congregants at a Texas church last month had been charged years earlier with a felony gun offense in New Jersey, where prosecutors later downgraded the crime to a low-level misdemeanor that had nothing to do with firearms.
Since the Dec. 29 shootout at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, much has come out about Keith Thomas Kinnunen’s criminal record, which seems to follow a pattern: He would get charged with serious, sometimes violent crimes, which later were pleaded down to less-consequential offenses.
While plea deals are common in the criminal justice system in New Jersey and elsewhere, this case raises questions about the effectiveness of laws meant to bar certain people from buying or possessing guns.
Despite Kinnunen’s history of mental illness — including a 2012 judge’s order declaring him unfit to stand trial — it does not appear his plea deals were enough to trigger legal provisions limiting gun ownership, which would apply in cases involving domestic violence and felonies.