Schumer to Obama: Close loophole that let Arizona shooting suspect buy a gun

Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator MORE (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that he is penning a letter to President Obama asking him to close one of the gun-control loopholes that may have contributed to last weekend's shooting at a meet-and-greet in Tucson, Ariz.

The shooting left six people dead and 13 wounded, included Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head and remains in critical condition.


The suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, is suspected to suffer from mental illness on the account of various reports and ramblings he had posted online.

Loughner had tried to get into the Army, but was denied for "excessive" drug use.

That, Schumer said on NBC's "Meet the Press," should have prevented Loughner from legally buying the Glock pistol allegedly used in the shooting rampage.

But the Army was not required to notify the FBI of the "excessive drug use" rejection, which would have let law enforcement add his name to the database that would show up when checking a customer purchasing a gun.

"There are certain things that can be done that don't even require legislation," Schumer said, adding that he was "writing to the administration this morning" to get President Obama to close that gap between the armed forces and law enforcement.

But one of two doctors serving in the Senate said there was a deeper issue to be addressed about why a mentally ill person would have fallen through the cracks.

"I think we're missing a bigger problem," Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach President Trump’s war on federal waste American patients face too many hurdles in regard to health-care access MORE (R-Okla.) said. "We need to make sure we fix the right problem."

Loughner, he said, is an "obviously unstable person" who had raised red flags and concern in "almost every encounter he had with people," but didn't get the treatment and diagnosis that would have stopped his ability to buy a gun.

And someone "who's going to do something crazy," Coburn added, wouldn't pay attention to gun laws in the first place.

Schumer, who authored the 1994 assault weapons ban with Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTrump administration urges Congress to reauthorize NSA surveillance program The Hill's Morning Report - More talk on guns; many questions on Epstein's death Juan Williams: We need a backlash against Big Tech MORE (D-Calif.), said he sees three areas with "possible bipartisan cooperation" to tackle in the wake of the shooting.

First, he said, is looking at the laws in terms of someone who is mentally ill buying a gun; next is his initiative to make the armed forces notify the FBI of certain failed candidates; and third is a congressional effort to limit magazine clips to 10 rounds.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthyCarolyn McCarthyWhy Congress needs an openly atheist member, now Lobbying World Lobbying world MORE (D-N.Y.), with the backing of gun-control groups, are drafting a bill that would ban the sale of magazines such as the one reportedly used by Loughner.

"The only reason to have 33 bullets loaded in a handgun is to kill a lot of people very quickly," Lautenberg said in annoucing plans to introduce the bill when the Senate returns. "These high-capacity clips simply should not be on the market."

Coburn said it's critical that guns laws don't "limit the ability to defend yourself."

The Giffords shooting, he said, is a case of a "mentally deranged person who had access to a gun who shouldn't have had access to a gun."

"Smart, rational gun control laws that protect the right to bear arms but have reasonable limits are the way to go," Schumer said.