Gun violence in schools hit close to home last week. The Stevens Institute of Business and Arts in downtown St. Louis was the latest scene of a shooter inside a school. Sean Johnson 34, was an on again off again student at the school. He entered the building on January 15 with a 9mm handgun, and went to the fourth floor office of Financial Aid Advisor Greg Elsenrath, whom Johnson had had a meeting with previously regarding his financial aid status. He shot Elsenrath once in the chest and was later found in a stairwell with a self-inflicted wound to the torso.
Both are expected to recover from their wounds, but it brings up some very important questions. The following day, President Obama gave a press conference where he laid out proposals for such things as universal background checks for all gun buyers, and a renewal on the assault weapons ban. In addition, Obama signed 23 executive orders all designed to curtail gun violence.
But would any of these executive orders stopped what happened at Stevens? The answer appears to be no. Johnson was well known to Police and the Mental Health system. In 2011, he was sentenced to five years probation, with terms requiring him to take his medication. So clearly, law enforcement and mental health were talking to each other about Sean Johnson already. At the time of the shooting, Johnson's probation had been revoked and an arrest warrant issued, yet Johnson was still out on the street. With over 250,000 arrest warrants issued in Missouri last year, local police have trouble keeping up with the workload. This would seemingly make this case more of a law enforcement/judicial problem.
Had Sean Johnson walked into his local gun shop and attempted to purchase the weapon used in the shooting, a simple background check already in use by gun shop owners would have revealed his extensive criminal and mental health history, and he would not have been able to purchase the gun. Authorities claim that the serial number on the Kel-Tec 9mm handgun had been filed off. No doubt Johnson bought his weapon on the street like most criminals. If possible, any remains of the serial number will be traced to find out the origins of the firearm. Yet another executive order that would have made no difference.
In the weeks and months to come, much more debate will be had on the issue of gun control, and the rights of law abiding, responsible gun owners. The question remains, how many more Sean Johnsons will there be?
UPDATE:Gun used in school shooting was stolen in home burglury. Will continue to monitor updates on this story.